TWO near-accidents last weekend were caused by inexperience on the water, prompting a warning to swimmers by surf lifesaving clubs to take precaution during summer.
Over the weekend Port Fairy surf lifesavers at East Beach responded when a catamaran overturned 800 metres offshore, while two teenage girls found themselves in trouble after their surfboard drifted 200 metres out to sea.
While no one was harmed during the incidents, Port Fairy Surf Life Saving Club captain Paul Buchanan said people needed to think more carefully before they ventured into the ocean.
“Don’t overestimate your capabilities — it’s not like swimming in a pool, it can be very tiring getting through the surf,” Mr Buchanan said.
For those unsure about trying out something new in the surf, he said the answer was simple — let the lifeguards know.
“We’re happy to keep an eye on someone if they want to learn,” he said.
Overseas visitors and those unfamiliar with the ocean were at particular risk, he warned.
Mr Buchanan said surf lifesavers had often pulled tourists in trouble from the surf.
“We’ve got a very safe beach at East Beach but when there’s a swell it can get a bit tricky,” he said.
Beaches across Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland will be patrolled over the summer.
Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club president Rebel Noter told swimmers to walk into the surf instead of running.
Recent swells at Lady Bay have caused three “gutters” under the surface, meaning the water could be up to the chest or neck in a matter of steps.
“Be careful running straight out into the ocean. It pays to just walk out into the water,” Mr Noter said.
“And if you’re unsure about the conditions just ask one of the lifeguards.”
Injuries from surfboards are also common and Mr Noter urged those new to the surf to be aware of others nearby.
“When you get groups of people together they tend to forget about the safety side of things,” he said.
Meanwhile, laws will come into effect this summer making it illegal to smoke between the yellow and red flags and within 50 metres of them.
Although the new restrictions will be enforced by council officers, Mr Noter said surf lifesavers would remind the public of the offence.