Windsurfer rescued by lifeboat

PUBLISHED: 14:22 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:22 18 April 2013

Exmouth RNLI in action. File photo.

Exmouth RNLI in action. File photo.

Archant

A windsurfer had to be rescued by the RNLI yesterday after getting into trouble off Exmouth beach.

The windsurfer found himself in difficulty by Maer Rocks at 1pm as the wind died suddenly.

He said: “I was drifting straight down the middle of the channel markers and was struggling to bring the sail up. When I went past the second lot of markers, I started to get a bit panicky.”

The alarm was raised by Exmouth lifeboat coxswain Tim Mock and his son Henry, who were driving along Queens Drive, when Henry spotted the windsurfer’s bright orange sail flapping wildly in the distance.

Tim said: “The sight of an occasional sail raising in the distance would be a cause for concern, as windsurfers have difficulty in mounting the board and raising the sail. “When he sailed towards the third channel marker, we alerted the coastguard who sets the volunteers’ pagers off.

“We know from experience that if you haven’t sorted out the problem by that point in the channel, then you’ll get into different types of waves and it can be very challenging.”

The inshore lifeboat George Bearman was despatched, with crew volunteers Guy Munnings and Andy Williams joined Henry to recover the windsurfer and his equipment.

The windsurfer, a resident of Exmouth, has at least eight years windsurfing experience and is a qualified RYA instructor, proving that even experienced water users may need the help of the RNLI.

He had taken precautions by telling his family where he was going, checked the weather forecast and used brightly coloured equipment.

Tim added: “It would be worthwhile considering carrying a personal flare, so you could initiate your own distress and not be totally reliant on being spotted by members of the public.”

The George Bearman had a busy day yesterday, as it was also launched four hours later to rescue another windsurfer with a broken mast.

A recovery was not needed, but the windsurfer was said to be extremely grateful for the RNLI volunteers bringing him ashore.

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