Angry dad says comp safety system flawed
A "FUNDAMENTALLY flawed" safety system is just one of the ways surf competition officials failed Maroochydore teenager Matthew Barclay.
Matthew's father Stephen Barclay revealed his disappointment with Surf Life Saving Australia on Friday after the Queensland State Coroner Terry Ryan released his findings into Matthew's drowning death.
The teenager lost his life during the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships at Kurrawa Beach on March 28, 2012.
Mr Ryan found the 14-year-old Maroochydore Surf Club member died after a dumping wave forced his board into a shallow sandbank at the Gold Coast beach.
The board flew into the air and most likely knocked him on the head, rendering the Sienna Catholic College Year 10 student unconscious.
Mr Ryan said had the rescue boat that was in the area been "operable" it could have been by Matthew's side within seconds.
Mr Barclay said his only son would be alive now if Surf Life Saving Australia ensured a working boat was nearby and if all surf craft competitors had to wear lifejackets and helmets.
"It's clear that Matt could have been saved if someone had got into the water in that crucial four to five minutes that he was submerged," Mr Barclay said.
But Mr Barclay's hardest criticism was the use of an iPad application to determine whether the water off Kurrawa Beach was safe to compete in.
He said he was angry that the app, which on the day warned a fatality could happen, was "modified" to a show a better safety level.
"To me (the app) was fundamentally flawed," Mr Barclay said.
"The application was able to be modified to say that because he (Matthew) was wearing a green singlet it brought the level of risk down to low.
"To me that is absurd."
SLSA officials considered Matthew's green singlet as a visual rescue aid.
Mr Barclay said it was only being worn to differentiate between male and female competitors.
"It is not a buoyancy vest - it was never treated as a buoyancy vest," Mr Barclay said.
The coroner said officials' policies and procedures for postponement and abandonment were adequate and that they were applied appropriately when it was decided conditions were safe enough for competition.
Mr Ryan cleared SLSA of any wrongdoing, but he made five recommendations to make surf competitions safer.
Key among the recommendations was the need to make all surf craft competitors aged 17 and under wear helmets and lifejackets.
He also said SLSA needed to ensure a working rescue boat was near competitors at all times.
- APN NEWSDESK
Read the coroner's full report and watch videos from Friday's coronial inquest findings at http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au