Bude RNLI rescue professional kayaker caught out by conditions off Widemouth Bay

Lifeboats News Release

Bude RNLI was tasked to rescue a professional kayaker on Saturday evening after she capsized in large surf off Widemouth Bay.

Volunteer lifeboat crew were paged shortly after 11.30pm to respond to a 999 call from Ailien Rhijnsburger, a professional kayaker who is paddling around the UK solo. She was completing a leg from Trevose to Bude and had been unable to land at Bude due to the large surf, so she had returned south to find alternative safe landing but had capsized on rocks south west of Widemouth Bay.

The D class lifeboat was tasked and volunteer crew safely launched the lifeboat in the dark through the surf and proceeded to search the area. Staying in contact with Ailien, the volunteer lifeboat crew were able to advise her to flash a light to identify her position. The lifeboat was then manoeuvred towards her location with caution due to minimal visibility and large swell.

Ailien was happy to paddle away from the rocks towards the inshore lifeboat, as crew were unable to get any closer. Lifeboat volunteers illuminated the water throughout so she could see her exit route clearly. She was taken aboard the D-class and transported back to shore with her five-metre kayak.

Ailien says: ‘I had missed my safe haven that I’d planned to land in so was looking for somewhere else to land. There was too much surf to go into Bude so I started paddling back and capsized in the surf. The Bude RNLI volunteers came out through the surf and in the dark to save somebody they didn’t know, it’s amazing. I had all the recommended safety gear on board but knew I wasn’t able to get any closer to the shore safely in the surf so made the call before I got into more difficulty. Everybody at Bude RNLI has been amazing and have gone above and beyond my expectations.’

Ailien was provided with accommodation overnight by a crewmember and returned to the station in the morning to meet up with crew. She is currently staying in Bude until the weather settles for her to continue her trip.

Bude RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager Chris Wilson says: ‘Ailien is an experienced Dutch kayaker and as such was fully equipped, trained and prepared. Her sea experience and the fact that she was carrying the correct safety equipment ensured that the volunteer crew were able to carry out a rescue safely in difficult conditions. It just goes to show that even the most experienced people can get caught out by the sea and reiterates the importance of respecting the water.’

Notes to editors

The attached photo shows Ailien Rhijnsburger, with volunteer lifeboat crew at Bude RNLI. Credit RNLI/Bude.

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