Big Wave Risk Assessment Group kicks off 2020 with Torquay Summit

March 4, 2020 | Surfing
Big Wave Risk Assessment Group: to educate and train surfers in ocean risk management, safety protocols, equipment, technology, and skills training | Photo: BWRAG

The Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG) will kick off the year in Australia with its first summit of 2020 held in Torquay, Victoria, from March 21-22.

The Torquay Summit will be hosted by Patagonia ambassadors Daniel Ross and Zeb Walsh and led by BWRAG chief master instructor Pat Chong Tim.

BWRAG exists to educate and train ocean adventurers in ocean risk management, safety protocols, safety equipment and technology, and skills training to maximize their own safe practices in the ocean and to elevate the safety of those with whom they share the lineup.

The summit is open to participants ranging from recreational riders to professional big wave riders, meeting them at their respective levels.

BWRAG Summits offer training for people of all abilities, whether they surf two-foot or 20-foot waves.

All ages are welcomed, from adolescent-aged surfers to experienced veterans.

The BWRAG Torquay Summit will feature both classroom and in-water curriculum, including comprehensive training in ocean risk management, case scenario analysis, dynamic breath-hold training, medical intervention training, safety product showcases, CPR/AED training, and open-ocean first-responder training.

The dynamic breath-hold training will be presented by Nam Baldwin of the internationally recognized Breath Enhancement Training program.

The Torquay Summit is one of BWRAG's many summits scheduled to take place in 13 cities across six countries around the globe this year, with potentially more summits to be announced later this year.

Jet ski rescue: saving lives in extreme surfing arenas | Photo: BWRAG

It All Started in 2011

The first BWRAG summit was held in 2011 in the barn of big-wave surfer Kohl Christensen's farm on the North Shore of Oahu.

Inspired by the tragic loss of fellow big-wave surfer Sion Milosky, Danilo Couto, and Kohl Christensen assembled a small group of surfers on Christensen's farm to address the lack of ocean safety protocols in big-wave lineups around the world, and to learn CPR.

From this gathering, the big-wave safety movement was born, and summits have been held every winter on the North Shore since then.

A few years later, in 2014, the members formally assembled as the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG) when Couto and Christensen reached out to legendary Hawaiian waterman and risk technician Brian Keaulana to share its generations of ocean safety knowledge at the summits.

At that time, ocean risk specialist Pat Chong Tim also joined the team.

BWRAG's instructor cadre has expanded to include big wave surfers Greg Long, Andrea Moller, and Mark Healey, ocean risk and water-rescue specialists Jon Hoover, WSL Water Safety Specialist Ryan Hargrave, and Liam Wilmott, and thrill craft instructor and Windward Community College adjunct professor Ian Masterson.

Pamela Foster has remained a part of the BWRAG team by continuing to teach her hands-on CPR training program at summits each year since the very first gathering in 2011.

What began as a small gathering has evolved to become a global movement.

The Global BWRAG Summits

BWRAG summits occur around the globe, in partnership with safety experts, local organizations, corporate sponsorship, and/or government agencies.

BWRAG also offers a suite of training designed for government agencies, ranging from lifeguard associations, harbor patrol, United States Coast Guard, or the U.S. military.

To date, BWRAG has held summits in Australia, Brazil, Newport Beach, San Diego, Half Moon Bay, Chile, Ireland, Hawaii, Peru, Portugal, and Puerto Rico.

After attending the 2018 BWRAG Hawaii Summit on Oahu's North Shore, Ross and Walsh were inspired to bring the BWRAG educational program to Australia to further share the ocean safety knowledge with ocean enthusiasts in their home country.

In 2019, two BWRAG summits were held in Australia - one in Torquay, Victoria, and the other in Austinnmer, New South Wales.

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