Surf instructor and ex-pro Robbie Sherwell said he has spoken to countless people about surf safety, but the message just isn't getting through.
Surf instructor and ex-pro Robbie Sherwell said he has spoken to countless people about surf safety, but the message just isn't getting through. Warren Lynam

Surf expert predicts 150-plus rescues on Coast beaches

A FORMER pro surfer predicts 150 people will be rescued from the Coast beaches this week with potentially deadly conditions off every shore.

Surf instructor and qualified lifesaver Robbie Sherwell and his wife rescued one child off Alexandra Headland on Sunday after they warned his father of a dangerous rip only 20m away.

Mr Sherwell said he isn't a believer in a "nanny state", but insists lifesavers and life guards should have enforceable powers to remove people from the water and fine them in the interest of saving lives.

"One of his four kids was handicapped," Mr Sherwell said of yesterday's rescue.

"(The dad) said, 'No mate, I am right'.

"I am just so over stupid people."

Mr Sherwell said the weekend was an example of conditions to come today and in the week ahead.

He said the swell and wind are each coming direct from the east, creating risky conditions on every beach. A low pressure system up north, and one way out near Fiji have created about 1.5m to 1.8m swells.

"But we have also had big 2m tides which have dragged a lot of sand off the beach, and there's big gutters and flash rips everywhere," he said.

"The biggest issue is, life guards and lifesavers are really doing their job, but we have a lot of very irresponsible people, particularly parents, walking straight down to the beach from their accommodation.

"They see an area where there is no waves and they think it's safe, and its actually the most dangerous spot because it's the rips where the gutters go to."

 

ROBBIE Sherwell barrelled in the Mentawis before his accident
Robbie Sherwell believes lifesaves and guards should have enforceable powers to remove people from the water.

Mr Sherwell has salt in his veins. His father was captain of the Maroochydore Surf Club before he was born, and he grew up a Nipper.

He is a two-time Queensland surfing champion and was a pro surfer for 10 years.

His advice mirrors that of lifesavers' and life guards' constant plea for people to swim between the red and yellow flags.

"And unless they have grown up in the ocean, stay at waist-deep water only," he said.

Mr Sherwell now runs a surf academy across Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland beaches, and said while his students are his first priority he will speak up if he sees others in danger.

But he said his advice and good intentions are often met with aggression, and insistence that those doing the wrong thing have the situation under control.

He believes "pure ignorance" rather than nativity is at the core of most rescues performed on our beaches.

"The people I have spoken to have all been Australian, and we have all been educated about the beach," he said.

"Everybody knows swim between the flags.

"It's ignorance and sheer laziness that puts people in danger."