Praise for surfer
Witnesses have praised the efforts of Coorabell surfer Luke Wrencher, who went to the aid of three young bodyboarders swept around Cape Byron in wild seas on Sunday morning.
Seeing the young boys in trouble, Luke paddled out to them, calmed them down and after paddling for 90 minutes, was able to guide them safely to the beach.
Craig and Tracey Evans from Byron Bay said they were surfing an inside bank at Cosy Corner at the time where they said the rip was ‘full-on and treacherous’.
They saw a small group of young bodyboarders on the beach who were advised by another surfer it would be safer to go to Broken Head.
That advice was ignored and within minutes of entering the surf, the group had been separated.
“Three were well out the back and heading around the cape, the point of no return as we call it,” said Craig.
“Luke made the decision to let the rip take him out so he could see how they were going.
“The three boys were tired and starting to panic. Beneath the lighthouse is a daunting place to be.
“He rounded them up and gave them a pep talk and took them out wide to calmer waters.
“He organised a single-file paddling routine and slowly worked their way south to a point the boys could make another attempt at the beach.”
Craig said once safely on the beach, Luke had given the boys a ‘little lecture’ and they had thanked him warmly.
On Tuesday Luke, a carpenter and who surfs most days, described the rescue as ‘pretty hairy’.
“I wasn’t that worried for me because I surf in big surf all the time, but I thought these kids were getting into something way over their heads,” he said.
Luke said he knew he had to get the young surfers out of the sweep and started paddling out to sea.
He said they paddled for at least 90 minutes and while it was hard to judge, he estimated at one point they were about two kilometres off the beach.
“It was a long way out, but I was able to reassure the kids we could get in,” he said.
“They were exhausted. They put in a big effort.”
Local lifesavers went to the scene in a rescue craft but were not needed. However, less than an hour later they received a call to the same location to rescue a stranded bodyboarder.
The bodyboarder was pushed up against rocks and was rescued by a Surf Rescue jet ski. The young surfer was returned to the shore and was treated for cuts and abrasions.