Sports carnivals are among some of Life Saving Victoria’s most exciting events, with the beach turning into a colourful sea of club tents and a display of skills on the sea and sand by LSV’s top athletes.
These events would not be possible without the work behind the scenes of LSV’s officials, who hit the beach before dawn to set up, spend long days standing in the hot sun and stay back until the beach clears into the evening for pack up.
One of LSV’s officials is Michael Vafiades, affectionately known as Vaf, a Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club life member.
Michael became an accredited official in 1994 and has provided his services at the Surf Life Saving Australian Championships (The Aussies) for more than 20 years, including the most recent Aussies held on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in April of this year.
For the past six years, Michael has been a part of the powercraft official team, preparing and maintaining communication channels for powercraft operators and coordinators on the beach.
“In this role, I prepare and maintain 60 to 90 radios for the inflatable rescue boat (IRB) drivers, jet ski operators, beach IRB coordinators and compound coordinator,” Michael said.
“This task requires me to be the first person at the compound at 5am and the last to leave, anywhere between five and seven o’clock at night.
“The radios must all be recharged overnight then put into wet packs in the morning, to ensure our powercraft operators and their coordinators on the beach can communicate efficiently throughout the day.”
Season 2020-21 marked Michael’s 22nd stint officiating at The Aussies, spending 10 long competition days overseeing the nation’s best athletes.
“I have been representing my club Warrnambool and LSV for 22 years at The Aussies,” Michael said.
“I spent 16 of those years as a judge in the surf boats arena or operating the safety boat before moving into the powercraft team.
“The Aussies is tough, it’s no let-up for 10 days but I am proud to represent my club and LSV and support our sports carnivals.
“There is no better place to be amongst the action of a lifesaving carnival than right there on the beach as an official.”