The surf-lifesaving reel consists of a large reel
on which a rope, called a surf-line, is wound. When swimmers get into difficulty the surf-line is attached to a lifesaver wearing a special belt
who, as the rope on the reel is played out, swims to their aid. The lifesaver
and the person rescued are pulled to safety by rewinding the surf-lifesaving reel.
The surf-lifesaving reel was based on a model
made by the Australian Lyster Ormsby, first captain of the Bondi
Surf Bather's Lifesaving Club. The first reel was built in 1906 by G.H. Olding, who also claimed to be its inventor
. The first person in the world to be rescued by a lifesaving reel was a boy
at Bondi Beach in January 1907. He gave his name as Charlie Smith, and was later to become the aviator
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.