How do we know where the rips will take us?

Rips move off the beach quite fast, but the velocity of the rip heading off the beach depends on the velocity of water that has come in from the waves on the sandbanks. If there are no breaking waves there should be no rips, the larger the surf - the bigger & faster the rips move. My conservative figure of 90% of rips will not take you beyond the surf break. Instead, these rips will move off the shoreline and then travel toward a sand bank within the surf break, mainly in a circular motion. A rip is not an undertow and will not drag you under the water, it is a simple flow of water like a river, therefore is not the cause of drowning.

Very few rips go further out than the outside of the surf break, normally these occur in bigger surf when there is a considerable sudden variation in the amount of water heading in.

As experienced watermen, we have understood rips like the back of our hands from a young age, therefore we are confident to pass on our knowledge to save lives. However if you are unsure, see some great research done by Dr Jamie MacMahan from the US - https://www.oc.nps.edu/~macmahan/projects.html. In this particular video it shows data collected from deploying many drifters with a GPS unit attached to track their travels in the surf zone.




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