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‘China will be an incredible experience’: Hero lifeguard prepares for paddleboard world championships

PUBLISHED: 11:08 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:08 16 November 2018

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner. Picture: RNLI/Nicola Quinn

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner. Picture: RNLI/Nicola Quinn

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He patrols the shoreline as part of a team of life-savers and passes on vital water safety information.

But this weekend a community safety partner and senior lifeguard with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) will be using his paddleboard to compete in a world championships.

Nick Ayers is travelling to China on Sunday to represent Great Britain as part of the GB SUP (stand up paddleboard) and Paddleboard team in the Surfing Federation world championships.

Special recognition award winner Nick Ayers with Victoria Schofield at the Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards ceremony. Pictures: Mick HowesSpecial recognition award winner Nick Ayers with Victoria Schofield at the Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards ceremony. Pictures: Mick Howes

The 27-year-old, from Lowestoft, will compete in the championships being held at Ri Yue Bay, Wanning, China from November 23 to December 2.

Mr Ayers will swap the east coast for the renowned point break of Ri Yue Bay in Asia as 196 of the world’s top SUP surfers, SUP racers, and paddleboarders from 27 nations represent their country and stake their claims for the global honours.

Sarah Barnwell, centre, who was rescued by Nick Ayers and Natasha Mills. Photo: James CarrSarah Barnwell, centre, who was rescued by Nick Ayers and Natasha Mills. Photo: James Carr

Last month Mr Ayers won a special recognition award at the fourth Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards evening.

In August, Mr Ayers was hailed as one of three heroes as he and two other lifeguards saved a woman after a seizure left her unconscious and drifting out to sea in Lowestoft.

The Acle Bridge pub staff learn how to throw a rescue line as the RNLI launch waterside safety training for pubs on the Norfolk Broads. Janet Hollingsworth with RNLI trainer Nick Ayers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Acle Bridge pub staff learn how to throw a rescue line as the RNLI launch waterside safety training for pubs on the Norfolk Broads. Janet Hollingsworth with RNLI trainer Nick Ayers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Ayers swam competitively until he was 18, gaining regional, national and Olympic trials.

At 18, he became a RNLI lifeguard and took up paddling where he spent UK winters in Australia and New Zealand as a swim coach and lifeguard, returning to the English coastline every summer.

Elle Veale, RNLI Lifeguard. Picture: RNLI/Nicola QuinnElle Veale, RNLI Lifeguard. Picture: RNLI/Nicola Quinn

In 2016, he paddled across the English Channel in five-and-a-half hours raising funds for the RNLI.

As well as his full time role leading drowning prevention initiatives at the RNLI, he volunteers for the Waveney Surf Lifesaving Club.

Mr Ayers and Elle Veale – an RNLI lifeguard from Cornwall – are part of a team of 12 who were selected from the top riders in Great Britain to compete in the categories distance and technical SUP, distance and technical paddleboard, SUP sprints, and SUP surfing.

Mr Ayers said: “I’m really proud to be part of the team representing the UK in China and have taken every opportunity to prepare over the past few months. I travel the country as community safety partner for the RNLI so my paddleboard has been packed and I’m training in the water every chance I get. “China will be an incredible experience and I can’t wait for the competition.”

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