Young Standup Paddler Rescues Surfer From Rip

The hero catching a nice one. Photo: Tim Rowe
The hero catching a nice one. Photo: Tim Rowe

When 15-year-old Aaron Rowe decided to go for an early-evening paddle surf on Tuesday, Feb. 19th, he expected to catch some nice drainers in St. Ouen’s Bay on Jersey Island just off the coast of Normandy, France. What Rowe wasn’t expecting was to leave the beach as a hero.
Rowe was paddle surfing at Le Port beach and noticed a group of surfers struggling to paddle out of a rip current. After standing by and watching for minutes, the pack of surfers managed to paddle out of the rip, but when another surfer was spotted struggling, Rowe sprung into action, paddling out to the surfer and towing him to shore. SUP mag caught up with the young hero to get his scoop on the rescue. —SC

SUP mag: Tell us what happened when you spotted the surfer.
Rowe: Well to begin with, I spotted three of his mates paddling against the rip and then realized they made it to the beach okay. Then, a bodyboarder spotted a fourth in the sunlight and recommended I went to check on him.

SUP mag: What was going through your mind during the rescue?
Rowe: In my head I was pretty calm and fine. I just paddled up to the surfer and asked him if he was okay. He just replied with, "I'm a little stuck," and I could tell he was super tired.

Aaron Rowe, mid-rescue. Photo: Tim Rowe
Aaron Rowe, mid-rescue. Photo: Tim Rowe

SUP mag: How long did it take you to tow the surfer to shore?
Rowe: I would say it took me 10-15 minutes. It was super hard to standup and paddle with the strain on the leash, so I ended up lying down for most of it and paddling in like that.

SUP mag: Besides some rips, how were the conditions the day of the rescue?
Rowe: It was offshore with sick waves.

SUP mag: How old was the surfer you rescued?
Rowe: I would say he is in his mid-twenties.

SUP mag: Do you have any training in water rescue?
Rowe: I recently joined the Jersey Aquatic Rescue Club, but that was my first rescue ever. I used my initiative by giving him my leash and towing him— it was my natural instinct.

Aaron Rowe in his element. Photo: Tim Rowe
Aaron Rowe in his element. Photo: Tim Rowe

SUP mag: Can you tell us more about your background as a standup paddler?
Rowe: I've been paddling around two to three years. I mostly surf, as I enjoy it the most, but I also do some races here in Jersey and abroad.

SUP mag: Do surfers and standup paddlers get along at Le Port and surrounding beaches?
Rowe: It's pretty calm at the moment, but there has been some conflict in the past. I'm just hoping the rescue opens the eyes of shortboarders to see that SUPs are useful and a great asset to the ocean.

The hero, Aaron Rowe, racing. Photo: Chuck Cumming
The hero, Aaron Rowe, racing. Photo: Chuck Cumming

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