Seal looks on as Littlehampton RNLI crew rescue windsurfer

Lifeboat crews from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution station in Littlehampton responded to calls of a windsurfer experiencing difficulties offshore of Middlleton-One-Sea on Saturday (September 13).

The windsurfer had been sailing up to a mile from shore when his mast suddenly snapped in half during a gybe manoeuvre, in which a vessel reaching downwind attempts to turn its stern through the wind.

The breakage left the windsurfer stranded at sea, unable to return to land but, fortunately, members of the public witnessed the breakage and called 999 to ask for The Coastguard.

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A lifeboat crew from the Littlehampton RNLI station was soon making its way across the waters to rescue the stranded windsurfer. Despite the fact that waves made visibility on the water’s surface more difficult than it would have been otherwise, the casualty was quickly located and brought aboard the lifeboat.

A lifeboat crew from Littlehampton rescued a windsurfer stranded off the shore of Middleton-On-Sea. Photo: RNLI

Volunteers were also able to cover the windsurfer’s board and sale, which aroused the curiosity of a nearby seal who had watched the scene unfold from the shoreline.

Having confirmed the windsurfer had not ingested any seawater, the crew returned him and his equipment safely to shore.

Mike McCartain, deputy launch authority at Littlehampton for the incident said the windsurfer did the right thing by staying on his board, even though it was broken: “It is much easier for our crews to locate a person and their equipment as a larger target is more visible in the swell then someone attempting to swim for shore.

“A dismasting is a dramatic event, but fortunately in this case the windsurfer was unharmed, albeit a little cold and shaken by the experience.. We thank the members of the public who called 999, asking for the Coastguard, for their assistance.”