Safety will be a focus when the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships begin in Perth this weekend.
Safety will be a focus when the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships begin in Perth this weekend. John McCutcheon

Mercer, Hendy, Kenny head up Aussies safety panel

IRONMAN great Darren Mercer is looking forward to having a greater impact on safety at this year's life saving national titles.

The Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club head coach is scheduled to fly to Perth today ahead of tomorrow's start to the The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

Nearly 350 Sunshine Coast youth, open and masters competitors have registered for the Scarborough event.

Mr Mercer will coach, compete and give advice for competition organisers as a part of an athlete ambassador panel.

He will be joined by current and former athletes including Trevor Hendy, Grant Kenny, Jimmy Walker, Kristy Ellis, Peter Spence, Burt Hunt, Harriet Brown, Courtney Hancock, Ali Day and Shannon Eckstein.

Such panels have been features at previous titles but Mr Mercer said there seemed to be an effort this year to embrace the panel when decisions were being made.

"I think now they are going to engage it on the spot," Mr Mercer said.

"It's frustrating sometimes when decisions are made they (officials) have not liaised with people or assessed it properly."

He expected the panel would help on matters like judging dangerous conditions.

He said previous incidents and tragedies, such as the 2012 death of Sunshine Coast competitor Matthew Barclay, drove the focus on safety.

"That (death) is basically one of the reasons they have set this process in motion.

"I know the Barclay family are supportive of what they are doing."

Surf Life Saving Australia president Graham Ford said other safety features included inflatable rescue boat crews and jet skis to patrol races and close coordination with emergency services groups.

Technology such as drones will also be used to monitor, review and assess surf conditions.



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