The year is flying by with the May long weekend already upon us and that means the end of the 2020/21 surf lifesaving patrolling season.
After Monday, our 3000 volunteer surf lifesavers will be able to take a break for the winter. Lifeguards will still patrol major beaches during the colder months.
Like other organisations, we have faced a really challenging period managing the impacts of COVID lockdowns, on top of the usual challenges of keeping watch over our busy beaches.
This year has seen our volunteers spend more than 340,000 hours on patrol across the state and we can’t thank them enough for their commitment.
Surf lifesavers from Forrest Beach to Rainbow Bay have saved more than 950 lives over the season.
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Unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many tragedies this year with seven beach-related drownings, which is seven too many from Surf Life Saving Queensland’s perspective.
All of these tragedies occurred outside of the patrol flags and I know that I sound like a broken record, but the flagged areas really are the safest places.
Our lifesavers and lifeguards are highly trained to read the surf conditions and pick the best spot for the flags. They continually review the conditions throughout the day and move the flags or close the beach in hazardous situations.
For the long weekend, the weather appears set to turn on us after a few weeks of beautiful blue skies.
We’re looking at showers across Saturday and Sunday with the Monday public holiday looking a touch better.
The swell is expected to increase and be around the metre mark. Light south-easterly winds will pick up to 15-20 knots through the middle of the day, before reducing into the afternoon.
Low tides over will be late afternoon, so be mindful if going for an afternoon swim that rips will be working hard as the tide runs out.
As always only swim between the flags!
Aaron Purchase is Surf Life Saving Queensland’s regional manager for the Sunshine Coast. His column in sunshinecoastnews.com.au keeps the community informed of what’s happening on the beach and how to stay safe in the water.