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Tay St beach to get surf base

By John Cousins

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Rebecca Manning, Hibiscus Surf School co-owner, says Tay St often has dangerous rips and currents so any measures to keep swimmers safe are positive. Photo/John Borren
Rebecca Manning, Hibiscus Surf School co-owner, says Tay St often has dangerous rips and currents so any measures to keep swimmers safe are positive. Photo/John Borren

Swimming between the flags will be introduced next summer to Tauranga's second most popular beach in the peak Christmas-New Year holiday season.

A surf-club base with flags will be established at Mount Maunganui's Tay St Beach from December 28 to January 14.

The Tauranga City Council welcomed the announcement yesterday by Surf Life Saving New Zealand's eastern region manager Chris Emmett.

The beach's popularity had grown when the artificial surf reef was built, he said. Although things had settled down since, with the unsuccessful reef to go, Tay St still attracted 1500 people a day last summer, making it the second busiest beach after Mount Main Beach.

Mr Emmett said Tay St had been an area of concern for years because it lacked a surf-club base, although the situation improved when the council started funding an increased frequency of roving patrols from the Mount and Omanu clubs.

Omanu Surf Lifesaving Club volunteers will man the surf base during the weekends, when paid Monday to Friday regional lifeguards are not working. Roving patrols will continue.

Councillors were assured the surf base could be achieved within the current level of funding, which totalled $152,000 for the 2013-14 season. Mr Emmett said staff would be redistributed in the first four weeks of the season to secure the right level of cover at Tay St for two weeks.

The number of bathers using Tay St dropped in mid-January to about 150 a day.

Hibiscus Surf School co-owner Rebecca Manning said she backed anything that would keep people safe in the water.

"The Tay St area can have more rips and currents than the main beach," she said.

Surfers were used to avoiding the flagged area at other beaches and doing the same at Tay St would not be a problem.

"If it's needed for safety then I'm all for it."

Mr Emmett said Surf Life Saving New Zealand also intended to identify key beach accesses on the Mount/Papamoa coastline during the 2014-15 season to establish where additional hazard signs were needed.

Other work for next summer included gathering statistics of beach usage at Papamoa East to allow them to put forward recommendations for future lifeguard cover. He indicated it would not seek additional council funding for two years.

Mr Emmett said no one drowned while swimming between the flags at Tauranga beaches last summer.

Seven lives were saved at the Mount beach by regional lifeguards and one person at Omanu. No lives were saved at Papamoa - in contrast to the 2012-13 season, when 25 were saved. Papamoa had the largest stretch of patrolled beach in New Zealand - 12km.

The number of preventative actions in which lifeguards responded proactively rather than reactively totalled 3930 for Tauranga's three patrolled beaches.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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