Spectators watch helplessly as search continues for missing Sunshine Coast teenager at Karrawa on the Gold Coast.
Spectators watch helplessly as search continues for missing Sunshine Coast teenager at Karrawa on the Gold Coast. Jay Allen/Twitter

Search fails to find Coast teen

THE search for a Maroochydore competitor who has gone missing at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast has been called off until first light on Thursday.

Matthew Barclay, 14, is understood to have disappeared during the under 15 board event about 3.45pm (AEST) at Kurrawa.

"Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with the family, and the broader surf life saving membership," CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia, Brent Williamson said.

Mr Williamson said all details surrounding the boy's disappearance in the water were being studied.

"There are various reports coming in; all that will be collated and reviewed in due course," he said.

Mr Williamson said conditions had been closely monitored through the day and a number of events had been modified, postponed or relocated to still-water venues.

"We believe everything possible was done to ensure the safety and fairness of the competition," he said.

The decision to postpone the junior competition would be reviewed in due course.

"We are confident from a surf life saving perspective that all our risk-management systems and decision-making processes were very robust and in place," he said.

"But that, no doubt, will be subject to external reviews."

He said that while the surf was not ideal, the swell was not as large as it was two years ago when Saxon Bird died after an accident on the same beach.

"Certainly the wind was up, hence the ongoing discussions about possibly relocating or modifying some of the events, particularly the surf boats."

He said the swell through the day fluctuated between point eight of a metre to just over one metre.

Major search launched for Coast lifesaver

A MAJOR search has been launched for a Maroochydore competitor who has gone missing in big seas at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Titles on the Gold Coast.

The Daily understands the 14-year-old was in the Under 15s board race at Kurrawa when he vanished.

The police helicopter, based on the Gold Coast, has joined surf boat crews in the water to search for the unnamed competitor.

The Daily understands the youth was the swimmer in the Under 15s board rescue event and the board struck him.

A Maroochydore Surf Lifesaving Club official told the Daily that there were grave fears for the young competitor.

The youth is a very experienced lifesaver who has won numerous championships.

There have been reports that dye has been released in the water to aid the search.

Organisers have stopped racing at the titles as the search is carried out.

The teenager was reported missing at 3.45pm.

Ambulance officers were on standby at the beach and Westpac helicopter had joined the search, an emergency services spokeswoman said.

Earlier today, dangerous surf conditions prompted organisers to move the surf boat competition from Kurrawa Beach to Coomera Lake.

"We have been monitoring the conditions at Kurrawa and feel that the surf is just too dangerous for our competitors,'' Surf Life Saving Australia's chief executive Brett Williamson said in a statement issued before 1pm.

"Obviously the welfare of athletes is of utmost importance and Coomera Lake will now be the venue for Surf Boat competition this afternoon and all day tomorrow.''

Sydney ironman Saxon Bird drowned in wild seas during the 2010 Australian championships at Kurrawa.

Afterwards, Coroner Michael Barnes criticised officials for failing to fully appreciate the treacherous conditions that led to Mr Bird's death.

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