Rid­ing waves at Raglan

Waikato Times - - Front Page - RUBY NYIKA

For­eign sum­mer-hop­ping life­guards are lend­ing a hand at Raglan’s beaches over the surf­ing sea­son.

Eight surf-lov­ing life­savers from the UK and US can be found trawl­ing Ngarunui beach.

The small town is renowned as ‘‘the Mecca for surf­ing’’, Dan Miller, a life­guard from the UK said. But it can also be dan­ger­ous. ‘‘There’s a lot of ar­eas where you can get in a lot of trou­ble,’’ Scott Wo­jtcza, a pro­fes­sional life­guard from San Diego said.

On a clear, balmy day, you can see the dark patches, where rip cur­rents lurk near the shore.

Last year, 21 peo­ple drowned at New Zealand beaches – the high­est toll since 2011.

Every year, life­guards flock to New Zealand beaches for the surf­ing sea­son – from Oc­to­ber to March – with some land­ing paid jobs for busier months.

The vol­un­teers – mostly from pro­fes­sional back­grounds – pa­trol the beaches dur­ing week­ends.

‘‘The way they life­guard [here] is def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent,’’ Wo­jtcza said.

‘‘There are no vol­un­teer life­guards in San Diego.

‘‘It’s a full time job, for seven months of the year,’’ Wo­jtcza said.

‘‘We’re peace of­fi­cers so we ac­tu­ally can write tick­ets and ar­rest peo­ple.’’

Life­guards even carry pep­per spray and hand­cuffs.

But while life­guard­ing dif­fers across the world, the re­spect for the wa­ter is the same, Wo­jtcza said.

Jess Gates, from Wales said this was an op­por­tu­nity for them to un­der­stand how life­guards op­er­ated in dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

‘‘It’s re­ally cool, we’ve been able to come over here.

‘‘A lot of what we do is very sim­i­lar. It’s all about keep­ing peo­ple safe.

‘‘I’m in no hurry to move on,’’ Gates said.

PHOTO: DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Vis­it­ing life­guards Jess Gates from Wales and Scott Wo­jtcza from San Diego have joined the Raglan Surf Life Sav­ing Club for the surf­ing sea­son.

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