When in the process of asking surf life saving veteran Brian Quirk what was the most valuable slice of advice for any swimmer who found themselves in the pull of a rip current he broke in before the question was completed with three straight to the point words.

"Do not panic."

A state of panic was just as dangerous as the state of a rip.

"Look, it is only a body of water so let it take you out and after you get to its head swim parallel to the beach for thirty of forty metres and then swim back in."


However, anyone who found themselves in a rip and was not comfortable that they could basically ride it out should raise an arm to draw attention, and assistance.

Beaches like Waimarama and Ocean Beach were susceptible to rips developing, and depending on the sea conditions they could surge out for 50m or 250m.

A calmer patch of rippling water within an otherwise sea landscape of breaking waves was the giveaway sign — the sign to keep out.

Rips are created by surface water being pushed in towards the shore, which create a slight rise in the water level there.

That level will then flow back out to the deeper water using the path of least resistance.

Any areas where there is a patch of deeper water, or offshore bars or near river mouths, will allow water to flow out more freely, and that is the escape gap where the rip will form.

Water flows in from "feeders" beside the rip channel into the "neck" and that is the moving flow of water which takes an unwary swimmer out.

Out to the rip's "head" where it dissipates.

"You'll get a lot of rips in areas around creek and river mouths where there is deeper water."

Seeing an unusually calm area within the waves is the sign that when in doubt, stay out.