Two men were thrown into the Richmond River after their fishing boat flipped and capsized as it crossed the Ballina Bar yesterday.

The crew of the twin-hulled aluminium 5 metre boat had spent the morning fishing offshore and were entering the river when the accident occurred.

A wave caused the boat to roll over, throwing the two occupants, both middle-aged Australian men, clear of the boat into the cold water.

A team of lifeguards were training on the river onboard the Ballina Jet Rescue Boat and two rescue jet skis and crews were quickly on the scene when the accident occurred shortly after 11am.

The Ballina Jet Boat was able to rescue the two fishermen, who had scrambled onto the hull of the semi-submerged boat. Both men were cold but not injured.

Lifeguard jet ski teams and the Jet Boat cleaned up the debris, including hundreds of metres of ropes, tubs, clothing, rubbish bins and marker poles.

A short time later a Coast Guard vessel arrived and a lifeguard swam a tow rope over to the submerged boat and secured it to tow it to safety.

“Both men were very lucky that rescue teams were close by when the accident happened,” said Northern NSW Lifeguard Coordinator, Stephen Leahy.

“The Jet Boat crew and the rescue skis regularly train in the off-season, not only to train new members but to improve their rapid-response capabilities. 

“We were able to ensure a quick and appropriate response.”

Due to the large size and weight of the boat, the salvage operation involving surf lifesaving teams, Coast Guard and NSW Maritime officers took several hours.