The RNLI will host four free Surfers Survival Clinics next weekend, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 March on the East Strand in Portrush.
The clinics, which are run by the charity’s lifeguards, are open to surfers of all abilities and are aimed at developing both knowledge and skills in surf safety.
The RNLI programme which is now being run for the third year in Northern Ireland will show surfers how to develop their rescue techniques, learn basic first aid and surf etiquette and learn how to help themselves and others if they get into trouble in the surf.
More people are taking to the sea every year for enjoyment and the Causeway Coast is a popular area for water sports including surfing and body boarding. The clinics have proved popular with surfers who use them as a chance to brush up on their knowledge and skills and pass on their experiences to others.
There are 10 seasonal RNLI lifeguarded units in Northern Ireland, each equipped with lifeguards ready to respond in the event of an emergency. RNLI lifeguards aim to reach any casualty up to 300m from shore within the red and yellow flags within three and a half minutes. Lifeguards are also on hand to provide advice and assistance to all water users.
Last year, Northern Ireland experienced one of its hottest summers for years and this was reflected in a busy season for the lifeguards located across the Causeway Coast in County Down. In all, RNLI lifeguards responded to 302 incidents compared to 159 in 2012 and came to the aid of 330 people who found themselves in difficulty, which is an increase of 153 from the year before.
The Causeway Coast, where there are seven units, was the busiest area, with lifeguards responding to 222 incidents and assisting 247 people.
Speaking ahead of next weekend’s clinics, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Tim Doran said: ‘Surfers of all abilities will benefit from the Surfers Survival Clinic. Amateur surfers will get the chance to learn safety skills, duck diving and surf etiquette which should help them minimise any injuries should they get into trouble. The more experienced surfer will be shown rescue and first aid demonstrations so that they can continue developing their skills in the surf.’
Spaces are limited for each session so advance booking is essential to avoid disappointment. Anyone who wishes to take part in the RNLI’s Surfers Survival Clinic should be aged 18. To book a space or for more information contact Tim on 077 899 25998.