Winter in Hawaii means many hours in the water and good times. Our favorite surf spots have waves for days, and all of our friends are out. It’s an exiting time to be a surfer, especially on the North Shore of Oahu. Some refer to it as “the seven mile miracle”; and it is. It’s beauty can often mask it’s teeth, and both experienced and non-experienced surfers can be taken by surprise with the shallow reefs and rip currents. There’s there’s so many elements to be aware of when surfing here; though none are more knowledgeable than the the North Shore’s lifeguards.
The North Shore Lifeguard Association was founded in 1996 by the Honolulu City and County Lifeguards who work and live in district three [ North Shore, Oahu Beaches ]. The club was organized to help fulfill the need for ocean safety and lifesaving education within the North Shore community through programs such as Junior Lifeguards.
Tambor is proud to show our support to these men and women, and promote the health and fitness of this crew that does so much for our community. We met up with some of the North Shore’s finest and spoke with Bryan Phillips of the North Shore Lifeguard Association about their mission for their community and how they stay physically fit for such a career.
2. How long have you been a lifeguard?
3. What are some of the towers you are typically posted at on the North Shore?
This winter I am working full-time on the Jet Ski. One day on the ski out of Waimea and 4 days on the ski at Pipeline
4. What do you enjoy most about being a lifeguard?
I enjoy helping people, the challenging surf and our healthy lifestyle.
5. What are some of the ways the North Shore Lifeguards stay fit for handling the surf and conditions out here?
Whether its lifting weights, crossfit style workouts, running, swimming, surfing or bodysurfing we all train at work someway. We have to be physically fit and ready for anything.
6. Pipeline and Waimea Bay draws a lot of spectators this time of year. On average, how many people do the lifeguards rescue in a day at these spots?
Prevention is a huge part of our job. Most of our “rescues” happen before people even touch the water from us just educating people where to go. The days when the surf is inviting to everyone are the busiest for us. Its really hard to put a number on that! But I say we rescue people a lot!
7. Especially during these Winter months, the use of jet skis are pretty vital to ocean safety. We’ve heard training to be one of the ski operators is pretty gnarly, can you tell us a little about that?
Jet ski recuse started in Hawaii by a handful of Hawaii lifeguards. Brian Keaulana, Mel Pu’u, Terry Ahue and Mark Dombroski to name a few, played a vital role in the development of jet ski rescue techniques. I went thru Uncle Mel’s training course, which was the most intense 5 weeks of my life! Uncle Mel (one of the biggest Hawaiians I know) demanded excellence and I’m proud to say I graduated his course with 7 of my lifeguard buddies. The boys in the tower do an amazing job keeping everyone safe and the jet skis provide backup. The skis can get in and out of danger really quick!
8. Who are some of the watermen you admire, lifeguard or civilian, and what do you think makes them such?
The list is too long to list! I admire all the humble guys who charge and the lifeguards who lay their life on the line every year all over the world.
9. In the Summertime, the North Shore Lifeguards host a Jr. Lifeguard Program. Can you tell us a little about that program and why it’s so important for kids to be involved?
I was a Jr Guard for 5 years and then became an instructor and now I organize the North Shore program. Our non-profit, North Shore Lifeguard Association (NSLA), runs a free program at Ehukai from community donations. This past summer (2015) we serviced roughly 250 teens and taught them lifeguard rescue techniques, CPR and first aid while providing a safe, fun and educational environment! We have professional surfers, photographers and Waimea Valley history experts who drop by to hang with the kids as well. This year NSLA sponsored 40 kids from around Oahu to compete on the Big Island at the jr guard state championships where we took 2nd place.
10. We have saying, “keep your life in rhythm“. How would you say this applies to being fit to be a North Shore lifeguard?
Be healthy and stay in shape!