Training day turns real for Omanu lifeguards

What was meant to be an easy afternoon of IRB training for a group of Omanu surf lifesavers turned into a double rescue off the Mount Maunganui coast yesterday.

IRB trainee instructor Thomas Brinkley, 19, was taking a group of 10 prospective drivers and crewman at around 2.30pm when he noticed a kiteboarder in trouble.

The kiteboarder, understood to be a foreign tourist, was 300m off Hart St when spotted but was quickly drifting out with an offshore breeze blowing.

Brinkley dispatched younger brother Adam and crewman Nate Moore, both 15, and by the time they reached the kiteboarder, he was nearly a kilometre offshore.

"He was in pretty bad shape and was showing signs of hypothermia by the time they got to him," Thomas Brinkley said.  "He was pretty freaked out when he got back to the beach - I think he realised just how close he'd come to not making it back in at all."

The lifeguards took the kiteboarder back to shore, assessed him and administered first aid and returned back to pick up the still-drifting kite.

Their day of drama wasn't over yet. As they were packing up after 4pm, a member of the public reported a dinghy 2km offshore, with the two occupants trying to row back to shore.

The IRB students assessed the situation, set the rescue craft up with tow ropes and radios and Moore and Adam Brinkley headed back out to sea.

They quickly found the boaties, who had been putting out a long-line, consulted the occupants and towed the craft back to shore in the choppy conditions.

Omanu head instructor Ian Glover, who was on hand during both rescues, said it was unlikely the boaties would've made it back into shore before dark, adding that his young troops had handled things brilliantly.

"I deliberately stepped back and let them handle it and they did everything exactly right," Glover said.  "Even though there was no surf, offshore days can often throw up potentially life-threatening situations like this and it was really pleasing to see how the young guys responded.  They were calm and professional and it ended up being a pretty valuable training day for them all."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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