Coffs Harbour lifeguard Alex Swadling pictured yesterday trialling the jet board, the latest ocean rescue.
Coffs Harbour lifeguard Alex Swadling pictured yesterday trialling the jet board, the latest ocean rescue.

Lifeguards trial new jet board

IN an Australian first, Coffs Harbour lifeguards are trialling a US-designed rescue jet board for use on local beaches.

The life-saving rescue aid is a large wide surfboard, weighing 95kg and fitted with a jet engine.

Trials in different wave and wind conditions have confirmed that a quick response is possible over short distances.

Coffs Harbour Council’s head lifeguard Greg Hackfath said the board was able to handle heavy surf conditions and would be effective for rescues of people within and beyond the surf zone.

“The jet board is far lighter and more manoeuvrable out of the water than the traditional jet ski so it can be launched faster and more easily by one person – making it ideal for more remote locations,” Mr Hackfath said.

“It has the potential to revolutionise the way rescues are done in places where jet skis or other power-craft are not available,” he said.

The jet board was essentially a large, wide surf board fitted with a jet engine.

“We propose to make some modifications prior to extensive trialling, including strapping and a rescue sled at the rear but preliminary testing of the unit has been very positive,” senior lifeguard Sonny Tisdell said.

“While we envisage that this jet board will not replace the jet skis with rescue sleds that we use at Park Beach and Sawtell Beach, the compact size and easy-launch capability of the jet board would make it ideal for rapid response rescues from more isolated locations,” he said.

A personal water craft (jet ski) is the industry standard for water rescue. However wave skis require a purpose-built trailer, a 4WD or all-terrain vehicle and plenty of muscle to place a 400kg jet ski into position for launch each day.

In contrast, the jet board could be managed using a lightweight hand trolley, so it could be launched quickly by one person and retrieved just as easily.

The final modified version of the new jet board was also expected to be less than half the cost of a fully-equipped jet ski with rescue sled and trailer.

Extensive trials would continue during winter at Park Beach.

After that it was hoped that the jet board could be used in the holiday periods at locations where jet skis would not be deployed, such as Emerald Beach, Darlington/Lorikeet and Corindi Beach.



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