Com­pe­ti­tion dis­plays skills

Na­tional Park sur­f­guards demon­strate life-sav­ing skills

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - THE GUARDIAN

Prince Ed­ward Is­land surf guards strut their stuff dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Fight­ing through vi­cious waves, bat­tling rip­tides and sprint­ing in the sand are not ac­tiv­i­ties for the faint of heart.

But for a P.E.I. Na­tional Park surf guard, the abil­ity to per­form can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a life or death sit­u­a­tion.

Surf guards show­cased their life-sav­ing abil­i­ties dur­ing an an­nual com­pe­ti­tion at Brack­ley Beach Satur­day night.

The com­pe­ti­tion saw nearly 30 surf guards split into three teams to com­pete in less-thandesir­able windy weather and wa­ters filled with jel­ly­fish.

“If it was re­ally nice there would be a lot more peo­ple here but it’s just been a re­ally poor sum­mer,” said Clark Gallant, owner and op­er­a­tor of Clark’s Life­guard Ser­vices.

How­ever, the ad­verse weather also height­ened the in­ten­sity of the com­pe­ti­tion, with surf guards per­form­ing sim­u­lated res­cues in the midst of pow­er­ful waves.

“Ev­ery sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent. You may have to run down the beach 100 me­tres and through a rip­tide,” said Gallant who has been work­ing at P.E.I. Na­tional Park since 1966. “You’ve got to be able to run and break through those waves prop­erly and be good with your equip­ment.”

Three of the four com­pe­ti­tions em­ployed the use of ei­ther res­cue boards or cans, while also show­ing a mix of tech­niques in­clud­ing run­ning, swimming and pad­dling.

Steve Tessier, a su­per­vi­sor with the life­guard ser­vice and mem­ber for about 10 years, was part of the win­ning team.

“It’s a very phys­i­cally de­mand­ing ex­er­cise to sprint out into the wa­ter for 200 yards and have to tow some­one back to the shore,” said Tessier. “But these guys spend their whole sum­mer look­ing out for peo­ple in the su­per­vised area... it’s im­por­tant we show­case those skills for the public.”

Tessier said the com­pe­ti­tion is also highly an­tic­i­pated by the surf guards.

“The surf guards in the na­tional park re­ally work hard through­out the sum­mer to get their fit­ness level up so they’re able to re­spond if such a res­cue sce­nario should oc­cur.”

The com­pe­ti­tion has been a sta­ple for more than 50 years, with hav­ing the first na­tional park in Canada to of­fer a life­guard ser­vice.

That be­gan in Cavendish in 1948.

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Steve Tessier, left, and Rudy Rudi­hurnik race to the fin­ish of the Ironguard Team Re­lay dur­ing the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion at Brack­ley Beach Satur­day night.

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