close down report
The last two weekends of the surflifesaving
patrolling season at Surf Patrol Whangarei Heads, Easter and the Anzac
weekend were contrasted largely by weather conditions, where Easter
was gloomy, and rainy with surf conditions at Ocean Beach moderate
to messy, Anzac beachgoers revelled in almost uncharacteristic spring
conditions, sunny, warm and almost non existant surf.
The highlight of the season close down had to be "B" patrol's
rescue of a patient and his boat, noticed by the Ocean Beach SLSP
Lifeguards to be drifting Northwards between Guano rock and Ocean
beach in persistant rain, and sea conditions totally out of place
for an open tinny.
A well co-ordinated rescue for the Guards, and a good use of the Patrols
IRB and Lifeguard skills.
Anzac weekend was very quiet for the guards with the warm sunny conditions
signalling the end of the patrolling season for all Surf Patrols in
the Northern region (extending from Raglan on the West Coat to Whangarei
Heads, the Northernmost East coast Surf Patrol ). Active patrolling
return to the beach in October,
Now it's offseason PLAYTIME!!
onshore, and messy
the patrol day board says it all.
The first couple of patrolling weekends in March has seen the end
of the lifeguard season looming in April.
Head counts are dropping as the holiday makers are starting to thin
out. Overseas tourists seem largely happy to walk the beach, and head
up the local walks either sides of the Ocean Beach. The water is still
very warm, but the early March washing machine engine is in full gear
and churning away, with the beach usually totally whitewashed right
out to the back breakers.
To Lifeguards, all this means, of course, PLAYTIME! The start of patrol
mandatory training swim to "check out the currents" usually
starts with a swift sideways drift, quickly building to a race to
see who can get out the back the quickest. With Julz posting a 400
meters time to beat of 4.35 minutes, and Mark close behind, it's usually
a no win situation (for us) between them, and us mortals, who are
left to cardio it to get through the impact zone and over the bank,
about 150 meters out . It's just, go hard, eventually catch up, try
not to lose equipment (or body parts) and (for us old fellas) try
not to cardiac arrest in the process of getting "worked"
on the bank - the usual story. The parallel swims across the back
from rip head to rip head then end in a semi body surf/tumble/thrash
back through the wash, where any drops taken are gravity fed in extremis,
especially sucking up bigtime on the bank. The split second before
taking the drop giving the same sort of feeling that I imagine runs
through the mind of a base jumper of the Eiffle tower, with any resemblence
to ridable stuff being totally coincidental, in a word "gnarly".
on the beach, it's sort out the gear, catch up with a regular breathing
rate, do a head count, then grins all round as the after playtime
feel kicks in. Big kids-the whole lot of us. How can something be
so much fun and be called training?
- Feb at Ocean Beach..
Has been full on for the guards, the trough
initially formed 20 metres out, and ran parallel to the beach, proving
testing to say the least. The constant problem of body boarders
with no flippers, foreign tourists with little knowlege of the surf
beach, and swimmers lacking swim skills, was added to by the rapid
northward feeder current charging through this trough on the outgoing
The weekend of 4-5 Jan 2003 saw rescues and preventitive actions
being rapidly performed side by side, as punters headed northwards
and out in a blink of an eye. The going technique is a fast swim
out and attachment of the rescue tube and reassure the patient,
whose eyes by now are like dinner plates.The boat then whizzing
in from a quick beach launch, to pick up the patient, leaving the
guard to swim back to the beach. This works really well, with the
lifeguards getting to meet new beach goers, and practice their foreign
language skills. The weekend of the 12 Jan was pretty much a mess
of northerly kick ass washing machine conditions, not condusive
to surfing in any form, however the Surf Club held a highly successfull
Lifeguard exam that weekend in the "testing" conditions
(see pics on page 3 of the monthly news page), proving that there
is always something of benefit happening at OB.
latter part of Jan has seen conditions settling surf wise with a
regular 1-1.5 m swell held up by predominant south westerlies. The
trough has changed with a large bank forming at the North, and a
large hole forming central beach, this now is causing headaches
on the outgoing tide as water spills off the bank and follows the
natural flow through the hole and ripping more to the right and
out. The beach front has steepened resulting in a dumping shorebreak
at high tide, as the tide receeds, this spaces out with surfing
on the low end of the tide becoming respectable, all we need now
is a good ground swell,
February is producing the goods, a close beach break, and clean
waves. Conditions are closed out minimally on the low tides, with
good rides taken by the patient few. Notable is the eagerly awaited
Feb groundswells appearing, but why are they always midweek?
Rule #1-wear flippers, Rule #2 - take the
drop..OB is steep drops with not much water over the sand with the
close out. The OB secret is do like the Lifeguards, after years
of research we've found the technique is not to paddle for the wave
lip pickup, but to wait for the lift and actually duck down and
back to pick up the pressure wave as it bounces off the sand. If
this is timed right you'll be picked up and spat out the wave front
just under the lip. a) You have to be ready to cut across, and b)
which is the down side of this technique, if the wave is already
spilling you are totally committed with little chance to button
off.. this can hurt.. but, hey, it's a nice hurt. Try it.
well, too much like hard work for us simple folk, but OB has bred
local Champions like ex Whangarei Heads Lifeguard and world ranked
John Lee Diamond who cut his teeth at OB's. He's a good lad. John
started surfing as a grom, in his words, "surfing's ok, but
you can do more tricks on a lid".
90% of the younger age group we perform rescues
on are usually body boarding without flippers.
Web Site of the Whangarei Heads Surf Lifesaving Patrol