The Wedge in Newport Beach, CA is a mutant of a wave. Breaking only feet from shore, spectators from all over the world line the sand to catch a glimpse of surfers, bodyboarders and bodysurfers braving the massive surf (typically during the summer months when south swells are common in Southern California).
However, as with any large group of onlookers, often times there are some people who try to get a little too close to the action.
Saturday afternoon, a couple on a personal watercraft decided to get just about as close to the action as you can get without actually surfing it.
An awestruck moment swiftly turned to panic and the couple was engulfed by a massive plume of whitewater. Instantly tossed from their ski, they were left to scramble on the inside, only feet from the rock jetty. Their personal watercraft stranded on dry rock atop the jetty.
“Apparently, they were just kind of lost or something, he just drove straight in,” Newport Beach Marine Safety Capt. Skeeter Leeper told The Orange County Register. “They rented a jet ski and they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Moments later, Newport Beach lifeguards rushed to the scene, and even a group of nearby bodysurfers (a group of Wedge experts known as the “Wedge Crew”) dauntlessly and swiftly swam to assist in the rescue.
“The lifeguards and the Wedge Crew jumped into action immediately, straight into a set, they did not hesitate,” Leeper told The Register.
While efforts proved successful, and the couple was eventually brought to shore, the watercraft was dislodged from the jetty and sent back into the impact zone of the crashing waves.
With the help of another swimmer, lifeguards attempted to quickly tow the ski out of the impact zone in between set waves. Unsuccessful, the watercraft bounced around like a cork, moments before capsizing.
While neither the jet ski driver nor the rider were seriously injured, the incident is certainly a lesson in knowing just how close is too close.
The ocean is unpredictable and can be very dangerous. This couple was very fortunate that Newport Beach lifeguards and the Wedge Crew were nearby and quick to act on the rescue.
“They were very lucky,” said Leeper.
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