Kevin Stickl waits on rescue
AS Kevin Stickl lay on his surfboard waiting to be rescued from a strong rip in rough seas under the Cape Byron lighthouse yesterday morning, there was just one thing going through his mind.
“All I could think about was sharks,” the 33-year-old Byron Bay surfer said.
Safely back on land and with teeth chattering with cold and lips turning blue, Kevin said he had tried to stay calm during the ordeal.
Kevin and three of his mates had been surfing at Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach since 5.30am. They were catching some great waves, but there was a strong southerly wind blowing and a strong swell.
“I had been out there for a few hours and was surfing right in the corner and the swell was very strong,” Kevin said.
“It just sucked me out and took me right around and under the lighthouse.
“I realised I was out way too far so I started yelling to some guys who could I see up at the lighthouse.
“Luckily they heard me and they called for help.”
With only a pair of boardshorts on, Kevin said he tried to stay calm, but was very cold and kept thinking about getting home safely to his four children and wife.
“I was also trying to stay away from the rocks as I knew I would really be in trouble if I drifted into them,” Kevin said.
“I was out there for about 45 minutes and physically I was getting pretty tired, so I was very happy when I saw the jet ski turn up.”
A surfer for seven years, Kevin said the experience had been ‘humbling’.
“I live here and know the surf, it just shows you how quickly things can turn,” he said. “It’s a timely warning to everyone to watch out for rips and be careful where you surf or swim.”
Kevin thanked the Byron Bay Police and surf lifesavers for rescuing him.
As he headed off for a hot coffee, Kevin said the incident would not stop him from surfing.
Surf Life Saving state duty officer, Jimmy Keough, says the incident should serve as a warning to the public to be extremely careful over the next 24-48 hours, as rough surf conditions and strong winds are expected along the Far North Coast.