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Crowded Beach Warning
7:05am 6th September 2014
The RNLI gives out safe surfing advice as Polzeath is labelled a 'disaster waiting to happen'
This after a health and safety expert on holiday reportedly said it was only 'a matter of time' until someone was seriously hurt in the crowded waves.
Lifeguards say they have no authority to limit numbers in the water.
Ben Miskowicz patrols the beach: "Polzeath at low tide is a very wide beach and the amount of numbers we get is perfectly manageable. Then when the tide comes in the beach funnels in to a really narrow beach and if we still have those numbers in the water it is very difficult to keep everyone in the correct areas.
"If it's quieter it's less likely someone's going to get into danger. But we would never stop people from going into the water, why would we? The water is free for everyone to use. We're just here to keep everyone safe."
James Millidge, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager added: "The RNLI has no authority to enforce a regulation on the number of people using the water. Surfing is an increasingly popular activity; especially so as the accessibility of equipment has improved greatly over the years, it's a good fun sport and we'd encourage everyone to give it a go at some point. In order to surf safely, we'd encourage surfers to do so at a lifeguarded beach. In Devon and Cornwall, the RNLI lifeguards use a flag system to keep surfers and bodyboarders and swimmers separate. Swimmers and bodyboarders are encouraged to stick between the red and yellow flagged area, while on many beaches (including Polzeath) black and white quartered flags will mark out the area which is used for surf boards, stand up paddle boards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Because of the risk of injury by surf boards, swimmers and bodyboarders are urged to stay out of this surfing zone.
"To maximise your enjoyment and keep yourself and others safe while surfing, we'd strongly encourage those new to the sport to have some lessons in the basics from an approved Surfing GB or ISA surf school and take some time to understand surf etiquette. We'd also suggest that you always wear a leash so you don't lose your board, check your equipment before use, surf between the black and white flags and follow the advice of the lifeguards."
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