Surf Life Savers get new Sea-Doo GTI fleet ahead of summer

Surf Life Savers have taken delivery of 14 new examples of the Sea-Doo GTI in the lead-up to the Australian summer, as part of a fleet of more than 50 personal watercraft on patrol along the coast.

Surf Life Saving Australia has taken delivery of a fleet of 14 new Sea-Doo GTI models ahead of the 2023-2024 summer season.

The 14 new personal watercraft – seven examples of the Sea-Doo GTI 130 and seven examples of the more powerful Sea-Doo GTI 170 – were delivered this week by Beaches Sea-Doo & Can-Am on Sydney’s northern beaches.

The latest delivery comes after 11 examples of the familiar Sea-Doo GTI were deployed for surf rescue duties across NSW this time last year.

Watercraft Zone has been told each Surf Life Saving rescue Jet Ski clocks up more than 150 hours over a 12-month period before it is retired and replaced with a new model.

Surf Life Saving Australia is the largest volunteer rescue organisation of its kind in the world, with more than 20,000 volunteers across 315 surf life saving clubs nationally.

While only a fraction of those volunteers are qualified to operate a Jet Ski, the organisation rescues more than 10,000 swimmers each year – using a mix of paddle boards, inflatable boats, and Jet Skis to perform retrievals.

There is a renewed focus on ocean safety after a tragic surge in the number of drownings in Australia over the past two years.

Last summer – from the start of December 2022 to the end of February 2023 – more than 54 people drowned on the Australian coastline, including 28 in NSW alone, the highest ocean death toll on record for the nation’s most populous state.

The victims were a mix of experienced and inexperienced swimmers, and almost half of them (43 per cent) were caught in a rip current, according to Surf Life Saving Australia.

Rock fishermen not wearing life jackets – who were knocked off their feet and swept into the water by a large wave – were also among those who died in the ocean.

Surf Life Saving authorities said last summer “100 per cent of coastal drowning deaths occurred either at an unpatrolled area, outside patrol hours, or outside the red and yellow flags.

“The majority of summer coastal drowning deaths were recorded on Australia’s east coast, with a staggering 28 deaths in New South Wales, the highest number ever recorded,” the organisation reported earlier this year.

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