Windsurfer blown out to sea off Exmouth was ‘minutes’ away from drifting out of sight of rescuers

A windsurfer in danger of being blown out to sea off Orcombe Point was rescued by Exmouth Beach Rescue Club who abandoned training to help.

A 39-year-old man from Torquay was yesterday, Sunday, spotted in difficulty off Orcombe Point, unable to reach shore in heavy seas and strong westerly wind.

Nigel Snowshall, Exmouth Beach Rescue Club spokesman, said a few more minutes and the man may have been carried too far out to have been seen.

He urged anyone taking to the water to have adequate safety equipment to raise the alarm in an emergency.

Mr Snowshall said conditions had deteriorated – the outgoing spring tide, strong westerly wind and heavy seas conditions at sea prevented the windsurfer from reaching shore.

He said: “Despite being an experienced windsurfer, the conditions got the better of him and he was being rapidly blown out to sea.

“He did have a good level of personal protection equipment but was on his own and only had a mobile phone as a means to summon assistance.

“He was lucky the members of the public who spotted him were also experienced windsurfers and were able to identify his need for urgent help.

“A few more minutes and he could have been too far out to be spotted.”

He added: “The casualty was tired with cramp but otherwise uninjured.”

Exmouth Beach Rescue Club was alerted to the emergency while it was on its regular Sunday morning training session.

The club rescue boat was on scene in minutes, in challenging conditions.

The casualty and crew packed down the windsurfing equipment and returned to shore.

Mr Snowshall urged water users to check sea conditions and take a reliable method of communication to raise the alarm in an emergency.

He said: “It is vital for anyone undertaking activities on the sea to check the conditions thoroughly including any forecasted changes.

“Tides can play a major part especially at Exmouth as can wind strength and direction.”

He added: “If you do not have a marine band VHF radio, you should not rely solely on a mobile phone as a method to call for help.

“For activities like windsurfing, kite surfing or kayaking, personal flares are recommended especially if you venture out alone.”

Mr Snowshall said volunteer lifeguards from Exmouth Beach Rescue Club train all year round after summer patrols finish at the end of September.

He said: “It’s surprising how many incidents we deal with outside our normal summer patrol season. “Historically many of our most serious incidents have occurred during this off-peak time.”

Exmouth Beach Rescue Club has achieved recognition from HM Coastguard, becoming a declared facility and being awarded grant funding from the Department of Transport and support from Surf Lifesaving Great Britain.

The aid will help the club boost its service, equipment and technical rescue training.


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