For seventeen year old Beauyn Crew, a late afternoon surf with a mate at Redhead Beach was normal…but on this day in February 2020, it became anything but normal for the young surfer.
Arriving at the beach, conditions weren’t ideal, with a large swell being trashed by strong onshore winds. For Beauyn and his mate though, a surf without the inconvenience of crowds was too big a temptation to let go.
‘Once we got to the beach there were so many instant red flags. The surf was big, ugly and choppy, with a strong rip through the lineup. We were the only people on the beach and not a soul in the water. The waves looked unpredictable but we headed out anyway,’ Crew said.
‘It was all fine at first. I got straight out the back with the assistance of the rip and paddled straight into a wave so it didn’t seem that bad. It was as I started to paddle back out I noticed that my mate had decided against it and had paddled back to shore.’
‘It was after that first wave however everything just changed. I started getting dragged towards the rocks on the point and the current was just too strong to paddle against. It was then I got caught by a series of set waves. I tried duck diving but was still getting pushed towards the rocks. I dove under the next set, swimming as deep as I could letting my board drag behind me but the waves were pulling my board and I closer to the rocks.’
‘Whilst my board was my best chance to stay afloat, it was dragging me onto the rocks, so I made the decision to abandon it and let go of my leash. I could dive under waves easier but I was at the mercy of the rip and got swept way out the back. I realised I was drifting further and further out to sea and at that moment I thought there was no hope of me getting back to shore, alive at least. Suddenly it was like a miracle happened and as I looked up towards the cliff face I saw two people walking along the Bluff and I screamed for help,’ Beauyn said.
It was these screams and the actions of the two people atop the cliff that commenced Beauyn’s dramatic rescue. A call made to Triple 0 ultimately led to NSW Ambulance tasking the Westpac Rescue Helicopter from the Belmont Base on what was an urgent search and rescue mission.
Seventeen minutes after leaving the Belmont Base, the aircraft and its crew had spotted Beauyn after a brief search, lowered a Critical Care Paramedic to him in the water, winched him on board and landed at the Redhead Beach carpark to waiting ambulances and emergency service personnel.
‘I’d been in the water for over 45 minutes but from the moment the people on the cliff saw me and called for help, it was only a short time until I saw the helicopter coming to find me.
Initially they searched closer to the beach as that was where the couple had reported seeing me but I was now about a kilometre out to sea. Fortunately, the crew’s knowledge of ocean conditions led them to widen the search area when they spotted me and I knew I was safe. The feeling I had when I saw the helicopter was unexplainable, it was just a feeling of relief, happiness and hope and I am forever thankful to the Westpac crew from that day,’ Beauyn concluded.