"Oh yes," Brian Quirk, who has more than 50 years experience in the world of surf lifesaving in the Bay, said.

"I think we're in for a very long and hot summer."

Which, he added, would almost certainly result in busier times for the volunteer crews who man the surf lifesaving stations along the often unpredictable Hawke's Bay coastline.

Given the way the season had already started that was well on the cards.


Since patrols began at Ocean Beach on November 12 there had been seven rescues even before the second week of December had arrived.

And last weekend a teenager was helped from the waters of Waimarama after getting into difficulty.

Very early, very concerning, Mr Quirk said.

"The main cause of this is the fact the numbers [of beachgoers] are so dramatically higher because of the early heat we've had.

"There is much greater attendance at the beaches than we would normally have at this time of the year."

Mr Quirk, who is the director of lifeguards at the Westshore Surf Life Saving Club and the chief lifeguard examiner for Hawke's Bay, said in normal years it was around this time that the numbers heading off to the beaches for a dip slowed a "slight" picking up.

"But it is already way up at all the clubs."

It was also way up in terms of times outside normal patrol periods as people, to dispel the heat, would head off to the seaside after work, or any time they really felt like.

"And it's a fact of life that we can't be on patrol all the time."

Mr Quirk said there was something of a traditional Kiwi "she'll be right" attitude at play in many cases.

"Kiwis think the sea is a friendly place to drop into."

In so many cases it was not, he said.

Beaches like Waimarama, Ocean Beach, Waipatiki and Marine Parade were "not really safe".

They had issues of undertow and, more threateningly, rips.

People getting into trouble will simply keep happening, Mr Quirk said as the frustrating and long-standing "she'll be right" approach was taken.

If there was to be a solution to the issue of swimmers getting into distress, and to reduce the chances of it, it was a simple "think about it" approach.

If in any doubt at all stay out.

If they arrived at a spot where there were few people they need to ask "why is there no one here?"

The answer could be the strangely calm patch of water within an otherwise wave-tumbling landscape.

The rip.

"And never swim in clothes ... that is just kamikaze stuff," Mr Quirk said.

"But it still happens."

The main ingredient to enjoying a sweltering day cooling off in the sea, apart from the obvious swim in patrolled areas, was one word.


"Take nothing for granted — be cautious."

He said the clubs and the guards did all they could and had the best resources for the job available to keep people safe in the sea, but at the end of the day it came down to the people doing the dipping.

"We have patrol areas but to see people outside it — that can be a bit aggravating."

Bryan Faulknor, a stalwart of the Ocean Beach Kiwi Life Saving Club who like Mr Quirk also has a half century of service and experience under his belt, agreed the early summer heat was exceptional.

"It is very unusual to have this early heat — you normally don't get this at this early time and we've had it for several weeks."

Which, he agreed with Mr Quirk, pointed to a long hot, and potentially busy summer for the guards.

He also echoed his opinion that the heat was leading to people swimming outside the usual patrol times, and outside the patrol areas.

"They have to be mindful of safety and just take care."

He said beaches like Waimarama and Ocean Beach were exposed and susceptible to changing conditions, and the creation of rips.

There had been more than usual for the start of the season.

"But they may settle down."

Like Mr Quirk, he said the standards of swimming between the flags and when patrols were operating, and not taking risks if the conditions looked uncertain, had to be stuck to.

He's seen many a summer and still has the "occasional" dip.

And he too had one word for swimmers to put to good use.