SUNSHINE Coast ironman legend Grant Kenny has defended organisers of the Australian surf titles, saying conditions at Kurrawa were difficult but not life-threatening.
Kenny was coaching a group of teenagers from the Noosa Surf Lifesaving Club who were just about to race when officials rushed onto the scene and ordered competition to be halted.
The drama came just after Matthew Barclay, a Maroochydore Surf Lifesaving Club member, went missing in the surf.
"Jett (Kenny's son) was on the line about to go when officials came along in a four-wheel-drive,'' Kenny told local radio station92.7 MIX FM this morning.
"Everyone had to stop racing and get out of the water.''
Kenny said he understood a fellow competitor in Matthew's race had tried to go to his aid but lost contact with him.
He said it would have been minutes before the first lifesavers were able to scramble out to the area and much longer before the full search effort was underway.
Some senior officials had run up the beach about a kilometre to join the rescue efforts.
He rejected calls by a top lawyer to have officials charged over the event.
"I think the guy has got no idea about what he is talking about,'' Kenny said.
He said even after the tragedy, he was talking to parents of the young Noosa competitors who did not have a problem with their teenagers being in the water.
Kenny said he believed Matt would have been comfortable in competing.
"Yes, it was challenging but we are lifesavers and there is no reason why the competition should have been stopped.''
Kenny said organisers had continually monitored the situation and were cancelling or moving events where there were greater risks.
"They were actively doing things to mitigate risks but at the end of the day we are lifesavers.''
"It was not life threatening in the sense you would look at it and say 'Gee we really shouldn't be going out there.''