A 41-year-old man who died after being caught in the surf at Tamarama on Wednesday afternoon has been named as Matthew Richell.
The Balmain father of two was pulled unconscious from the water by other surfers, who tried to resuscitate him on the beach. He had suffered a head injury.
A jetski had been on its way to rescue Mr Richell after he was washed into an area known as "The Twins" when a wave knocked the distressed man into the rocks.
Police say Mr Richell had been surfing at Bronte Beach but was swept north onto rocks at Tamarama.
Waverley Council chief lifeguard Bruce Hopkins said it appears Mr Richell had been washed into “The Twins”, named after two large vertical rocks.
“It’s dangerous in there because you have a lot of ledges underneath. You’ve got sharp rocks, and there’s no other way out of there,” Mr Hopkins said.
He said a jetski from Bondi was on its way to rescue Mr Richell when a wave knocked him into the rocks and he sustained a head injury. He is understood to have been surfing with a friend.
Mr Hopkins said the water at The Twins usually washes people towards either Bronte or Tamarama beach but when panic sets in, some try to “get out” on the rocks.
“That’s probably the worst thing you can possibly do.”
Bronte and Tamarama beaches are not patrolled by life guards in the winter.
The surfers who pulled Mr Richell from the water tried to revive him on the sand while waiting for paramedics, who took over CPR efforts for 20 minutes before Mr Richell died.
Coleen O'Neill, of the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club, said the spot where Mr Richell appears to have run into trouble is "very treacherous" because of rips that pull towards the rocks.
“That’s very, very dangerous there. Because of the rips. It happens at that point ... it can pull you out and pull you around into Tama," she said.
“That particular spot would have to be the most dangerous on the beach. And Tamarama is classed as the most dangerous beach in Sydney, I’d say, and Bronte’s not too far behind it."
Nearby resident Nicky Lavigne, who was walking on Tamarama Beach, said it was “horrible” to witness emergency crews trying to revive Mr Richell.
“The surf at the moment is pretty big,” she said.
Three foot swells were forecast along the coast of Sydney this afternoon and Mr Hopkins said they may have been up to four.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner and have informed Mr Richell's wife, Hannah. His two children are aged six and three, police said.