Competition displays skills
National Park surfguards demonstrate life-saving skills
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.
Steve Tessier, left, and Rudy Rudihurnik race to the finish of the Ironguard Team Relay during the annual competition at Brackley Beach Saturday night.