Discussions about safety techniques almost invariably include comments about how difficult or impossible it was to do various things in the “heat” (or cold) of real rescue situations particularly with such occasions occurring in rough weather and water. But it is not clear to what extent such techniques are impractical or are just inadequately practiced. Ask any professional rescue worker about the importance of serious practice and repetition of rescue techniques and what do you think they will say? What should we expect from amateurs who rarely if ever practice towing someone on the back of their surfski in calm or rough water and who rarely if ever practice calling with their radios in calm AND rough weather?
If you want to have a reasonable idea about what works for you under what circumstances you absolutely have to practice whatever safety technique you expect to be able to use - on a regular basis. You can start out in calm conditions to get such procedures well thought out and memorized - then gradually take them out for trials in rougher conditions (with enough safety backup for insurance) to see how well they hold up and whether your methods and practice need to be modified, simplified, etc. to give you maximum chance of success in difficult circumstances.
[suggestions for additions and changes would be very welcome here]
Staging competitions for safety techniques has a number of potential advantages: