Surf patrols to gauge possible future need

Starting the first surf patrol at Tomahawk Beach in about 50 years last weekend were boat crew ...
Starting the first surf patrol at Tomahawk Beach in about 50 years last weekend were boat crew (from left) Nic Bryce (23), Matt Lloyd (16) and Jack McDowall (16), all of the St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Weekend surf patrols being provided at Tomahawk Beach as an experiment this month could lead to further patrols there from next season.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand club support officer, Otago-Southland, Maddy Crawford made that point this week.

The patrols began last Sunday and will continue, from noon to 5pm today, and on weekends for the rest of this month.

They are the first regular surf patrols at Tomahawk Beach for about 50 years, surf club officials say.

Miss Crawford warned late last month that out-of-town visitors were needlessly putting their lives at risk by swimming at Dunedin beaches that had no surf life-saving patrols, including Tomahawk.

She added there had also been a trend for more Dunedin residents to swim at Tomahawk, which was readily accessible by car.

It was a long, exposed beach, subject not only to rips but also to rapidly changing weather.

Several surf rescues had been undertaken at Tomahawk Beach in recent years, despite the previous lack of patrols, and the beach was becoming increasingly popular with swimmers.

This month’s patrols were intended to provide more protection for swimmers there, and were also intended as an experiment, to  determine if  there was a need to establish permanent patrols there in future.

"The idea is to collect data there to see if it’s valuable to have a patrol there or not."

If data on the extent of beach use, rescues and preventive action by lifeguards warranted it, further patrols could be undertaken there next summer.

Daily regional surf patrols are continuing at St Clair, St Kilda, Brighton and Warrington beaches from 11am to 7pm until January 26, and then volunteer patrols continue at weekends from noon to 5pm until March 18.

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