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The NSRI walked away with two awards at the recent International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) Awards. The winners have also been nominated for Peoples’ Choice Awards, so get voting!

The IMRF Awards recognise search and rescue professionals from around the world for their outstanding actions and innovations.

The first award was won by the team behind the South African JetRIB, which is a combination of a four-stroke Yamaha VX1050 Jet Ski with an extension hull and Hypalon pontoons for rescues in the surf. They were given the ​​IMRF Award for Innovation and Technology.

“There was a lot of research and development put in by Droomers Yamaha, Admiral Powercats, and the NSRI,” says Graeme Harding, the NSRI’s training manager. “We did a lot of testing, and then when we first rolled it out we did a countrywide tour with it and demonstrated it to all of the surf stations, and got buy-in from their teams and coxswains. It’s a bigger team than just the guys here at head office. We had feedback from people throughout the institute. For us to win an international award for a new kind of vessel is really a big thing for us and we’re very proud of it. We hope that the JetRIB goes around the world and saves hundreds and hundreds of lives.”

According to Graeme, the JetRIB has already made a huge difference here in South Africa.

“First of all, there are no propellers in the water so if people are being washed around in the surf or under the boat, there’s no chance of propeller injuries,” he explains. “In addition to this, with conventional engines on the surf boats, if you do get rolled over, the engine no longer works. With the JetRIB you just right it and off you go. It’s also very easily operated in the surf by a single person. It also has phenomenal sea-keeping capabilities. It’s just a complete game changer for rescues in the surf.”

The second award, the IMRF Vladimir Maksimov Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to Patrick van Eyssen from Station 3 (Table Bay). Pat has been a crew member at Station 3 since the age of 19 and a rescue coxswain for almost as long. He is still an active coxswain and also mentor’s future crews.

“When I received a call from Cleeve informing me that I had won the IMRF award, I was absolutely overwhelmed as I had never expected anything like this,” Pat says.

When asked about his proudest moments with the NSRI, Pat says that receiving his 50-year active service award, as well as passing on his knowledge and experience to younger generations have been his greatest achievements.

“The NSRI is an organisation well worth joining, as it teaches you discipline, good camaraderie and various life skills,” Pat says. “There is no need to be nervous as all crew had to start from the beginning and training is done in-house – you become part of the rescue family. All trainees and crew sacrifice a lot of time but all this is rewarding, especially when a life is saved. It is also giving back to the community and your country.”

Both Pat and the JetRIB team have been nominated for the IMRF’s Peoples’ Choice awards, whose winners are determined by the public. To vote, go to the IMRF Facebook page, read the nominations and then just click ‘like’ and/or ‘share’ under any story that you think deserves recognition. Voting closes on 8 October.

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