Jet Ski assist rescue training with the essential sled: Image Alan Place
Surfing line ups worldwide are becoming increasingly crowded and the big wave locations are no exception. It’s great that so many are sharing the surf stoke but growth and crowds can bring with it inexperience and the inherent consequences which especially among the tow surfing scene can lead to life threatening situations.
Open water pick up in the soup. Image Alan Place
Some of the planets biggest, heaviest, coldest waves are found on the West coast of Ireland and here the tow surf scene is thriving at locations like Aileens and Mullaghmore. So stories from the Irish west coast of near misses, injuries and dangerous situations are becoming more common as increasing numbers of tow teams, film crews and spectators enter the water whenever the Atlantic serves up monster swells. So it’s to the credit of some of the local big wave surfers that the safety aspects of surfing heavy Irish waves has been recognised and acted upon in a really positive and responsible way.
All hands to assist hauling the skis in and out of the water. Image: Alan Place
One of the founders of the Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club, Peter Conroy based in Co Clare has spearheaded an initiative to help train surfers in jet ski rescue techniques, lifesaving, accident and emergency procedures along with common sense advice for when situations take a turn for the worse. Peter’s extensive knowledge from his role as a paramedic and firefighter in Dublin, along with years towing and charging some of the biggest most critical surf ever ridden, places him in a unique position to share and pass on his experience.
Lifesaving, A&E and resuscitation procedures advice from Peter Conroy
Early Nov 2014 Conroy sent out an open invite to all the Irish big wave surfer community as well as to anyone with a vested interest in life saving in the surf to attend a free jet ski safety course at Spanish Point Co Clare. On the day of the event the surf was 8-10ft so the beach break served up some very challenging but ideal conditions for some realistic training. The day was hosted by Peter and assisted by locals Steve Thomas, Seamus Orian and Fionan Cronin as a free event to bring everyone together to share best practice for when the surf goes XXL. There were basics on jet ski maintenance and launching, along with in water jet ski assist pick ups in the white water, lessons on punching through waves on the skis, how to land the skis safely ready for hauling out of the water and more. From there Conroy held an onshore session discussing possible surfing injuries and how to deal with them, plus some simple life saving techniques and instructions.
Pick up; Image Alan Place
The first event was attended by some of the big wave surf names from both Clare and Donegal along with guys that spend time in the water and realised the need for better all round safety knowledge. Overall the day was incredibly useful, I know that I personally learned a huge amount and I’m sure all of those who attended felt the same. Lets hope that the injury and life saving techniques never need to be used but if they do there will be a lot more surfers around who are in a much better position to step in to help. Conroy aims to host one of these events every month so if you are in the Clare area I would 100% recommend contacting him about joining up – it will make a difference.
So big respect to Peter Conroy for the the initiative and to all the other lads who helped out – it was incredibly generous to offer their time and expertise to help others and in promoting safety in heavy Irish surf. Thanks Lads
Also a big thanks to Alan Place for sharing these images with us. For more info on Alan’s photographic work visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saltiesouls/532527030125052?ref=hl