Rieghard Van Rensburg, Station Commander of JBay writes: “Today started, pretty much just like any other one of the past 11 days since 14 July; Station 37, Jeffreys Bay have been on active standby at the 2011 Billabong Pro Surfing Contest in Jeffreys Bay.
We knew that there would be surfing – no matter the conditions, as there were still 7 rounds of surfing remaining and today is the last day of the 11 day waiting period. Weather predictions were spot-on & we were met with some rain & a strong Easterly blowing.
Our crew launched just after 7:00 am & arrived at Supertubes around 7:20. Sea Rescue crews are often called-upon to head straight into all types of conditions and this would be a great training exercise for our crew.
Heat 1 got underway & close to the end of Heat 2, we received a call from the Jetski, that one of the crew was feeling a bit green. I quickly suited-up & moved down to the beach for the changeover. As the Jetski moved through the surf-line, they misjudged a wave. We rushed to help but we had taken on quite a bit of water so I sent the swimmer back to the beach & headed-back to Main Beach to swap out the jetski.
I was back at Supertubes & was watching surfers. Almost at the end of the first Semi-final, I realised that this jetski was not idling well and I was starting to lose power. I called our shore controller and asked them to relay a call to Station 21 [St Francis Bay] to assist in the recovery of the Jetski.
Under normal conditions, it takes Rescue 21 about 20-25 minutes to get to Jeffreys Bay, but due to the conditions, it would take almost twice that long to reach me.
Drifting without any propulsion with an Easterly blowing, I quickly realised that I would need to get in the water & swim the jetski against the current, to prevent it from ending-up on the rocks.
As I understand, at this stage, the Billabong Pro 2011 Final was actually put on hold to wait for Rescue 21 to arrive & tow me back to safety. I quickly secured a towline to the front of the Jetski in preparation for the tow & with my current position, I knew that we would probably only have seconds, to setup a tow as I was now drifting seriously close to the surf line.
Rescue 21 arrived just in time to pull me away from the surf line & we ʻraftedʼ the Jetski next to Rescue 21 & started the slow drive back to the Jeffreys Bay Main Beach, where our crew were waiting to assist me to swim the jetski onto the beach.
.……….sometimes its the rescuers who need rescuing!”