Experienced windsurfer rescued by Exmouth RNLI
Exmouth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, George Bearman was tasked by Brixham coastguard at 1pm on 17 April. The charity’s Coxswain, Tim Mock called the coastguard to initiate the launch when he spotted the windsurfer in difficulty by Maer Rocks.
The casualty, a resident of Exmouth, with at least eight years windsurfing experience and a qualified RYA instructor, found himself in difficulty as the wind died suddenly. He described the moment;
‘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.’
Coxswain, Tim Mock and his son, crew volunteer Henry Mock were driving along Queens Drive at the time. Henry had spotted the casualty’s bright orange sail flapping wildly in the distance. Tim commented;
‘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.’
Crew volunteers Guy Munnings and Andy Williams joined Henry to recover the casualty and his equipment. The windsurfer had taken precautions by telling his family where he was going, checked the weather forecast and used brightly coloured equipment. Tim advised;
‘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 launched four hours later to rescue another windsurfer with a broken mast. A recovery was not needed, but the windsurfer was extremely grateful for the RNLI volunteers bringing him ashore.