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Hayling Island RNLI volunteers attend kitesurfing tragedy.

Lifeboats News Release

On the morning of Sunday 5 March Hayling RNLI lifeboat crew were called to a kitesurfer in difficulty in Hayling Bay, but neither they nor UK Coastguard helicopter paramedics were able to save his life.

Hayling Island Lifeboat beached on the shore.

RNLI/Alan Bartlett

Atlantic 85 beached to transfer the casualty

The Hayling Kite School manager made a call directly to Hayling Isalnd RNLI Lifeboat Station reporting a kitesurfer in the water in Hayling Bay, not showing signs of getting back on his board.

As the volunteer lifeboat crew were already in their kit and about to launch on exercise they were diverted to go to assist the casualty and the UK Coastguard was informed that the Atlantic 85 lifeboat was on its way. They arrived on scene in 13 minutes due to the low tide and rough conditions with a Force 6/7 south westerly wind at times gusting Force 8 and with squally rain and hail showers.

The experienced local kitesurfer had been using an 11m kite and had been hit by one of the squalls. Another kitesurfer saw him depower the kite but the next time he saw the casualty he was in the water and not climbing back onto his board, so he went over to see if he could help and found the casualty face down in the water.

He managed to turn the casualty over and then with considerable skill towed him and the kite towards the shore. He realised however that he was not going to make it and so let the casualty drift onto a yellow marker buoy and he set off for the shore to call for help.

At this point the Hayling lifeboat arrived and at first thought the assisting kitesurfer was the one in trouble but he pointed to the casualty held by the yellow buoy. The lifeboat crew took the casualty on board and cut away the rigging and kite and immediately started CPR. The helm headed for the shore pausing to pick up the other kitesurfer and decided that although the tide was low and the lifeboat would not normally beach, in this crisis situation he needed to get the casualty ashore.

The crew used oxygen and continued CPR and the search and rescue helicopter was paged. It arrived very quickly and the helicopter paramedics took over treatment of the casualty who was transferred to a stretcher and airlifted to QA hospital. Sadly it was later learned he had been pronounced dead on arrival.

Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat crew were also involved in the incident. They were already afloat on exercise at the time and had heard Hayling lifeboat's radio call for medical assistance, so they raced to the scene and transferred two crew to the beach. They assisted with the transfer of the casualty then once the helicopter had taken off they helped to relaunch a heavy Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

RNLI media contacts

Alan Bartlett, Hayling Island RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, 077498 061220 or

Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 07785 296252,

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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