Is it a bird?
By MAX GODBEE
Yamba Surf Life Saving Club
NSW surf life saving representative and Australian champion Jacob Lollback starred at the Yamba surf club's annual championships yesterday and then almost immediately afterwards played a lead role in a dramatic double rescue at the northern end of Yamba's Main Beach.
Lollback, a member of the day's rostered beach patrol, had competed in 13 championship events in a three-hour period, winning nine of them, and has just taken a shower in preparation for lunch when the rescue took place just after 1pm.
He walked onto the clubhouse verandah where he was alerted to two men on surf skis being washed perilously close to Lone Rock and the rocky headland at the northern end of the beach.
It was obvious the men, later found to be overseas visitors not fluent in English, were surf novices.
Surfing conditions had been heavy throughout the morning with sizeable waves made dangerous by a number of strong offshore rips.
Lollback donned patrol surf flippers and swam about 100 metres to the closest of the board riders, advising him of his dangerous situation and offering to assist him to shore.
The board rider urged Lollback to go first to the assistance of his friend, 20 metres further out to sea who, he said was the weaker swimmer.
Lollback headed the man and his board towards to shore then swam out to the second surf board rider.
In the meantime another club member Martin Dougherty who had also had a long morning in championship events, grabbed a rescue board and was about to join the action when club IRB captain Brendon O'Mahoney called on him to act as crew in the rubber duckie rescue craft.
The two took the rescue craft out to near the Lone Rock and picked up the second board rider while Lollback paddled the rescued man's board back to shore.
O'Mahoney and Dougherty brought the second board rider back to the beach, advising him against further ventures into such heavy surfing conditions.