February 18, 2023

A 12 year old nipper has saved a woman from a rip current, while he was board training ahead of Surf Life Saving Queensland Youth Championships on the Sunshine Coast. 

Ari Hamill, from the Surfers Paradise SLSC, was training with his club mates in preparation for today’s Surf Life Saving Queensland Youth Championships, when someone told him a woman was in trouble.


His dad Zayne, who is also his coach, started swimming out to the woman.  But Ari with his board in hand, quickly paddled out to the woman offering her his board and helping her safely to shore.


“I didn’t see her get in trouble but I was just finishing up my board session that my dad was coaching me on,” said Ari.


“Somebody came over and said there was a lady in trouble, so my dad ran over and swam out and I ran over and paddled out. I gave her my board so that she could rest on it and I helped her in [to shore].


“It happened near all the rocks and she was being swept off her feet and sucked out to sea,” he said.


While he is not yet old enough to be on patrol, his five years involvement in nippers provided him with surf survival and rescue skills that gave him the confidence to save a life.


With his first rescue under his belt, Ari said “it felt good” to be able to help her.


He will now spend the next three days racing for Surfers Paradise Club, hoping he and his team mates can produce some medals.


Surf Life Saving Queensland General Manager Kurt Wilson said the bravery shown by the aspiring surf lifesaver demonstrated exactly what nippers is all about.


“Our nipper program is all about producing tomorrow’s surf lifesavers and young Ari is a great example of what the program is designed to do and that is to teach young people vital surf safety skills.


“The lady was lucky Ari was there to help, otherwise the outcome could have been very different.


“We have over 12,800 nippers across Queensland, with 1,500 competing over the next three days at our Youth Championships, all of whom are equipped with surf safety skills.


“Last season alone our volunteer surf lifesaver performed more than 149,000 rescues, but that takes into account rescues like Ari that perform outside of patrol hours.

“I must commend Ari and his Dad Zayne for their quick thinking yesterday… his lifesaving journey has only just begun,” he said.


The Surf Life Saving Queensland Youth Championships will continue at Mooloolaba Beach 18-19 February 2023.

For full statistics check Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Coast Safe Report – click here.