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A rip current runs riot at Ramla

Liam Spiteri surfing, rip tide article

While chatting to Liam Spiteri the spotlight naturally moved to a very scary incident that happened on his birthday in 2020 – when a rip current ran riot at Ramla Bay in Gozo…

As you recall, in Episode 1 we documented our thanks to Sean Meli – a local surfer who jumped in gnarly conditions to save a young swimmer from drowning and here is another similarly scary story from our shores…

Liam Spiteri also opened up about a similar story during his first-ever surfing session at Ramla Bay in Gozo. Ramla is a gorgeous spot, tourists love it and when the surf is good, its alright too.

On this particular day, there was a Double Red Flag, meaning swimming is actually not permitted. Lifeguards were present, but swimmers were still bathing. Suddenly, Liam said he “saw a lady, whose daughter was being dragged out to see”

This was late morning and Liam had to drag this girl out of the water and back to the shore. That was not enough it seems as, after lunch, more commotion followed. He spotted a young girl’s head bobbing up and down and headed straight towards her with her board. Luckily, Liam was not alone as another swimmer joined him on the rescue…

The girl, he described “was in a state of panic, and told me, while crying, that she couldn’t swim. The sea was rough and Liam had to get this girl on her board to take her back to the shore, but despite being an avid surfer, even he struggled in the conditions. “I am lucky the other girl was there to help too, as it could have had a worse ending.”

The trio was some 30m away from safety, in water too deep to stand in, with a panicking, crying girl who was drowning and could not swim. It’s a nightmare, which soon took a turn for the worse…

As they get to the shore a mother is in a state of panic. She says she is missing two more young ones and did not know if they were in the sea or not. Again, with no hesitation, in Liam went. He was now battling cramps after the two earlier rescues and was exhausted. “Instinct kicked in, it’s as simple as that for me.”

The lifeguards did not even attempt to go in, such were the conditions. Liam risked his life until eventually the girls were located on the shore. 

He feels a little anger at the lifeguards. “It’s not their fault, they are young, not really trained or paid well. They are just doing a summer job and panicked themselves. I still can’t believe they did not help when I was shouting from the sea.”

A rip current is notorious, but the worst thing you can do is try to fight it. You literally need to go to the flow as battling with will only serve to drain your energy, which can be deadly.

The moral of the story here is the bravery of the likes of Liam and Sean is incredible, and we always need to be careful at the seaside in the wind… especially when kids are involved.

Stay safe out there folks. 


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