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Vote the Boat a ‘game-changer’

Charlie Matthews competing in Surf Life Saving competitions. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club is one of four finalist vying for a new Inflatable Rescue Boat. GRACE PRIOR reports.

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Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club is one of four finalists in this year’s Vote the Boat competition.

The competition is for “a brand-new Inflatable Rescue Boat [IRB] worth $25,000.

The Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club has been saving lives for 65 years.

The club is called on to patrol 300km of beautiful yet challenging coastline from Waimarama in Hawke’s Bay through to Worser Bay in the Wellington region.

“This is a huge responsibility and IRBs are critical to the regular search and rescue operations the club assist with,” a Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club spokeperson said.

Last year, the club was involved in seven search and rescues, along with 27 serious first aid events which involved ambulance and rescue helicopters.

Riversdale Beach lifeguards. PHOTO/FILE

Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club chairman Dave Rose said the club supported two flagged areas at Riversdale Beach, “the northern end outside the clubhouse and the southern end.”

The needed the IRB for the areas along the east coast outside of Riversdale, mainly at “Waimarama out of Napier in the north, and Worser Bay in Seatoun”.

“That gives us a huge coastline to respond to,” Rose said.

“It’s a challenging coast, both beautiful and rugged, with swimmers, recreational fisherman, surfers, and boaties. Last year we responded and supported seven search and rescue operations, all requiring the use of an IRB.”

The boats “take a pounding, the motors do huge hours, most of those hours going flat out,” Rose said.

“We nurse the IRB hulls along and have regular maintenance on the motors; a new IRB would be a game-changer for us.”

They are the “only first aid facility in the greater region covering the East Coast and respond directly to Wellington Free Ambulance 111 calls.

However, they are struggling to raise funds with only a small community to support them,” Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club said.

Rose said that “one of the saddest aspects of search and rescue is that many turns into a body recovery”.

“Last summer we were involved in the father and son tragedy at Mataikona.

“We searched with an IRB for more than eight hours on the Friday in testing conditions in the hope of finding the divers.”

“On the Saturday, the search continued, with us assisting the New Zealand Police dive squad in locating and getting the bodies to shore, giving closure to the family.”

The club’s oldest IRB is 12 years old, and the newest is five years old.

The Vote the Boat competition relies on public voting which runs until Sunday, November 22. One vote per person can be cast online per day.”

“Please swim between the flags, and cast your vote every day at votetheboat.co.nz,” Rose said.

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