With recent chaotic weather turning the tide on the ebb and flow of Mangawhai’s surf, a tragedy on a local beach was averted thanks to the swift actions and calm mind of a young surfer and volunteer surf life guards.
On Sunday afternoon, October 4, 12-year-old Jackson Brown and his father Andy were catching waves together at Mangawhai Heads surf beach, when the distant splashing of two girls caught the young surfer’s eye.
“At first I thought they were just mucking around but then I saw they were caught in the rip and thought ‘oh no’,” Jackson says, a keen surfer of nearly six years.
Realising that one of the girls was having trouble keeping her head above the water and looking increasingly distressed, Jackson immediately turned his surfboard in their direction and paddled as fast as he could to reach the girls.
“I asked ‘do you need some help’ and she said ‘yes’ so I got her half up on my board and I just said to her ‘you’re ok, you’re on my board, I’ll get you to shore,” he says. “I was going to help the other girl too but when I turned around to see where she was, my Dad was already with her.”
After recognising the situation, Andy had paddled over himself to join his son.
“I was on another part of the surf break, about 50 metres away from Jackson, and then I saw him in an area where he shouldn’t have been, and I thought ‘why is he there’? Then I saw him with the girl and thought ‘somethings going on here’,” he says. “The girls were frightened but weren’t panicking, probably because Jackson was so calm.”
Meanwhile the unfolding situation had also been spotted by Mangawhai Heads surf lifeguards who had just finished a combined training session with Waipu Cove Surf Club, and were congregating at the surf clubhouse. Leader of the Mangawhai Heads Emergency Callout Squad, Jess Costello, once again jumped back into the water and rushed to the aid of the drifting group, transferring the girl from Jackson to her rescue board and assisting them all to shore. The ten-year-old girls were understandably in shock from the frightening experience, and their father obviously relieved and grateful for the quick actions of all involved.
“The dad shook my hands a lot and said thank you so much,” Jackson says. “I’m really glad I was there to help.”
Naturally Andy is very proud of his son’s quick actions and cool thinking.
“He recognised the situation and didn’t panic, he was calm and very mature… he did a really good job.”
Mangawhai Beach School Year 8 student and former Mangawhai Heads Surf Club member, Jackson Brown has been riding the waves since he was a six-year-old, his calm confidence and quick thinking helping when he was first on the scene after two girls found themselves struggling in a strong rip. PHOTO/SUPPLIED