At Byron Bay last Wednesday, whilst out near The Wreck, a local kitesurfer saved three swimmers caught in a rip. It triggered an incident report with police and ambulance in attendance. The three were bodysurfing when dragged out to sea by a large rip. It is the same place where two people drowned earlier this year.
The rescuer, Michel Blinkhorn – a local female kiter, responded to their screams for help by leaving her surfboard with one, and body-dragging the guy in the most trouble first; then returning to drag in the next guy, before a surfer ran down to paddle out and help collect the last guy with the board. The police and rescued swimmers both agreed that the outcome would have been tragic if she wasn’t there.
This incident shows that a ban of kitesurfing in Byron, as proposed by some detractors of the sport, is the wrong approach. It is only beginners that are of any danger, and that is mainly to themselves. Experienced kitesurfers can save lives.