Tweed Daily News

Fingal tops rescue list

WITH a drowning, a shark attack and almost 70 rescues this season, Fingal beach could be considered one of Tweed's most dangerous.

Volunteer surf lifesavers officially ended their patrols last weekend, but Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club president Andrew Chubb says that won't stop people from visiting the popular beach in the coming months.

Figures from Surf Life Saving NSW for the 2008-09 surf patrol season show that 69 people had to be rescued from Fingal beaches, the most of all the Far North Coast beaches.

Cudgen had 32 rescues, Cabarita had 23 and Salt surf lifesavers only had two rescues for the duration of the season, which began in September last year.

Mr Chubb said Fingal often had the most rescues, but that did not mean it was a more dangerous beach.

“It's no more dangerous than anywhere else,” Mr Chubb said.

“We had the shark attack, but there have been shark sightings everywhere this season because there has been a lot more bait fish around.”

Brisbane man Jono Beard was attacked by a great white shark in January while surfing at Dreamtime Beach, south of Fingal Headland.

His was one of the 11 non-fatal shark attacks across the state.

While there were no drownings at patrolled beaches, 35 people drowned at other beaches across the state, including a middle-aged tourist who was swimming at the northern end of Fingal beach in February.

“A lot of people go to un- patrolled sections of the beach,” Mr Chubb said.

“We had a drowning this year at north Fingal, but that was at the very northern end of the beach about two kilometres from the flags.”

The main reasons for the drownings, according to Surf Life Saving NSW, were rips and rock fishing.

“We have found people are having less and less respect for the flags, so we are working on (providing) more education about swimming between the flags and how to get out of a rip,” Mr Chubb said.

Last summer's constant rain and the current global economic crisis are thought to have led to a significant increase in visitors to Fingal beaches this season.

“We had a lot more people this year,” Mr Chubb said.

“The caravan park (Fingal Holiday Park) was full because no one has been going on overseas holidays, so people were walking straight to the beach from the caravan park.”

The next surf patrol season will begin on Saturday, Octo- ber 3, 2009.

Mr Chubb said the Fingal Rovers were always seeking new members.

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