VIGILANT: Patrol Captain William Davis, left, and deputy captain Adam Nelson at Kings Beach.
VIGILANT: Patrol Captain William Davis, left, and deputy captain Adam Nelson at Kings Beach. Che Chapman

Sunshine Coast lifesavers conduct 121 rescues in two days

A COMBINATION of training, tireless effort and inventiveness have helped avoid a tragedy.

After Met Caloundra lifesavers were involved in one of their busiest weekends in recent memory, notching up more than 100 rescues in two days, it became apparent that some quick-thinking helped contain what could have been a disaster.

On Saturday, 76 people were pulled from the water at Kings Beach in a matter of hours.

Super-sized swell, strong sweeps and extended rips combined to catch plenty of swimmers unawares after large sets thundered in and peeled back out.

By the end of Saturday, about 90 rescues had been carried out, with another dozen on Sunday.

Considering the entire region from Noosa to Caloundra recorded 121 rescues for the whole weekend, the crews at Met Caloundra were by far the busiest in the region.

"Normally the rip here would only go for 25m to 30m at the maximum and then just dissipates, but no, it was actually going straight out," Met Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain William Davis said.

"The rip on Saturday was actually howling. It was taking people 150m to 200m out."

As conditions subsided yesterday at the normally calm Kings Beach, Mr Davis explained some of the techniques that were used on Saturday at the height of the action.

"At one stage there, the boys had both lots of boards and people with tubes, they were using the boards as holding pens for the people just hanging on and then the IRB (inflatable boat) was doing a shuttle run back to the beach with the people," he said.

"Other patrol members came down and chipped in as well once the word got out that things were going off.

"Sunday was still a bit trepid but nowhere near as bad as Saturday. There was just so much water coming on to the beach and the water has to go somewhere.

"It just took those swimmers out."

Mr Davis noted a lot of work being done by his crews was pro-active and closure of the beach could have resulted in unsupervised swimmers entering the water in more dangerous spots.

Meanwhile, there was also praise for the work done by Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club crews from patrol captain Kari Stephens, after several rescues on Sunday.

The teams battled large, dumping waves to help the stricken swimmers, including three French tourists reportedly exhausted, who were swept out to sea between Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland.

It was one of many superb rescue efforts. Among them, a rookie boat driver did five rescues on her first patrol.


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