Waves ‘N’ Saves
OTB’s surf team becomes the first to be ready to rescue.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The idea makes sense: These chasers of small tsunamis spend more time at sea than the stars of TV’s “Deadliest Catch,” so why not train them to save lives?
That was the idea of Kelly Sorensen, owner of On the Beach Surf Shop and a 10-year member of the Pacific Grove Ocean Rescue team. With his eyes on the not-so-pacific Pacific Ocean, he made his shop’s team learn the fundamentals of ocean rescue. That made OTB the only surf team in the state to do so.
“These kids are in the water more than anyone,” Sorensen says. “If something does go down, they’re going to be the first responder.”
Last month, OTB conducted its second mandatory CPR certification class for team riders. John Haecker, CPR instructor and safety manager for Monterey Bay Aquarium, gave a live-saving lesson for free.
Inside the store, rows of wetsuits and surfboards stood guard. Pictures of local surfers riding down peculiarly placid 40-foot walls of water offered evidence of Mother Nature’s schizophrenic personality.
The surfer-students included diehards like Zach Downing, John Pennington, Robbie Newman and Kevin Riddleburger.
“I hope this starts a trend in which all surfers would go to the Red Cross,” Sorensen says. “And it’s not just about saving a life on the beach, it’s saving your mother and father or grandparents at something like a Christmas party.”