All-women surf life saving patrols to celebrate milestone

CELEBRATIONS: Suzanne Fairbrother, Abbey Fairbrother, Sarah Willmot, and Vanessa Fairbrother will be on patrol on Sunday to celebrate the 40-year milestone for women. Picture: Simon Sturzaker
CELEBRATIONS: Suzanne Fairbrother, Abbey Fairbrother, Sarah Willmot, and Vanessa Fairbrother will be on patrol on Sunday to celebrate the 40-year milestone for women. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

For many Tasmanians, surf life saving is in the blood.

That's the case for Boat Harbour's Abbey Fairbrother who has grown up on the beach learning the ropes from her family, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

She will pull on yellow and red for the first patrol's of summer this weekend to celebrate a special milestone for the association.

It is 40 years since women were first allowed to patrol and to celebrate Abbey has organised for women-only patrols in Tasmania on Sunday alongside her clubmate Abby Avery.

The Sisters in the Surf initiative seemed like the most logical way to celebrate the milestone on account of COVID-19 limitations.

"We thought it would be cool to do something to celebrate, but being the year it is we thought a gathering would be too hard," she said.

"So we thought, why don't we do an all women's patrol doing what we do best?

"I thought it'd be cool if the North-West clubs get together but then decided, let's make it a state thing."

Abbey's dad and uncle are founding members of the Boat Harbour club and her mum Vanessa and aunty Suzanne inevitbly got involved.

Their dedication to the cause continues to inspire Abbey with Suzanne involved for 30 years.

"For an organisation that is over 100 years old, 40 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things but it is getting better with patrolling numbers almost at 50 50 for men and women," she said.

"It has been a quite a big family affair, we all patrol together and my aunty and mum will both be patrolling on the weekend."

Abbey is proud to embrace all the opportunities surf life saving presents including driving an Inflatable Rescue Boat "that tends to be something that is male dominated".

"There are so many different avenues of things you can do, whether you are athletic and go down the sport track or do marine rescue, first aid or coaching," she said.

"This weekend all about celebrating patrolling but you don't have to patrol to be involved in surf lifesaving."

This story Women celebrate surf life saving milestone first appeared on The Advocate.