Surfers in New South Wales will have deployed a dedicated shark monitoring jet-ski to oversee competitors in local waters from today, thanks to a partnership between health insurer HIF and Surfing New South Wales.
A string of shark attacks along the far north NSW coast has prompted the move by HIF and Surfing NSW to put a new jet ski in local waters, specifically to support the safety of surfers.
Rip Curl sponsored-surfer Kirra-Belle Olsson, who was bitten by a shark when she went for a morning surf at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast in October 2014, says the new jet ski will help surfers feel safer in the water.
The 15-year-old suffered serious lacerations to her foot and leg but has since returned to the water, putting in an amazing performance this year to win the girls’ under-16s age category of the event’s inaugural Sydney Grom Challenge.
“I’m in the water almost every day so I welcome any extra measures to help keep surfers safer,” Kirra-Belle said.
“It is great that the new jet-ski will patrol popular ocean breaks when many of us compete.
“Coming face to face with a shark is obviously pretty confronting and we are all aware that attacks can happen. While we try to put this at the back of our minds as much as possible, any extra measure to help keep us safe is welcome.”
Surfing NSW Chief Executive Officer Luke Madden said the frequency of interaction between sharks and humans had increased dramatically in the past 18 months.
“We have also noticed a significant reduction in surf school participation, particularly on the far north coast, as a result of shark related incidents,” Mr Madden said.
“Therefore we’re thrilled that our long-term supporters, HIF, have provided this jet-ski specifically to support our board riders.”
HIF Managing Director Graeme Gibson said the new jet- ski will be used to help keep surfers safe.
“We’re a coastal community where Australians love their water sports and surfing is one of the most popular activities. Our commitment is to help improve the safety of surfing participants.
“HIF is proud to support events that encourage healthy activity and surfing is one that is becoming more and more popular with participants of all ages, ranging from school age right through to the more mature, veteran surfers.”
Media contact: Donna Cole, LastSay Communications 0419 901229 or firstname.lastname@example.org