Personal Locator Beacon helps Aldeburgh RNLI volunteers save kite surfer’s life

Lifeboats News Release

Aldeburgh's inshore lifeboat (ILB), Susan Scott, launched on Monday evening to a kite surfer drifting out to sea. The all-weather lifeboat (ALB), Freddie Cooper, launched soon after a ‘man overboard alert.’ Both lifeboats were responding to the same incident.

Aldeburgh Mersey class lifeboat Freddie Cooper 12-34 at sea.

RNLI/Stephen Duncombe

Aldeburgh Mersey class lifeboat Freddie Cooper 12-34 at sea.

The kite surfer was drifting out to sea after his lines were tangled and he was unable to relaunch. He then lost his board and entered the water activating his personal locator beacon (PLB) which sent an alert to the UK coastguard, who then informed the volunteer crew from Aldeburgh RNLI.

As the lifeboat crew arrived on scene in the dark, the strobe light on the PLB helped the crew to locate the man in the water. The distressed kite surfer had then been in the water for 45 minutes.

Aldeburgh’s second coxswain, Karl Barber, spoke of the rescue: ‘If it wasn’t for the personal locator beacon showing up on the lifeboat’s automatic identification system, the kite surfer would have been very difficult to see in the water. It was dark and there was a real risk of not immediately finding him. The kite surfer shared that his mother persuaded him to buy the personal locator beacon, the best £200 he has ever spent. It helped save his life.’

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: ‘The sea is unpredictable and one of the biggest dangers with kitesurfing is going alone or in rough weather conditions. Taking some simple steps to stay safe will reduce your chances of getting into trouble. We advise kite surfers go out with a friend or take a means of calling or signalling for help, like a personal locator beacon. Never ride out further than you can swim back. Be prepared, check the conditions and tides, and don't go out in conditions you can't handle. Visit rnli.org.uk for the latest safety advice to help you get the most out of the sport you love.’

The volunteer crew pulled the kite surfer on board the lifeboat and returned him to shore into the care of Shingle Street Coast Guards and Ambulance crew. The crew returned to station at around 10.40pm.

RNLI media contacts

  • Caron Hill, Aldeburgh RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, 07837 263210 email chillpress@hotmail.co.uk.
  • Clare Hopps, RNLI Press Officer (North and East), 01642 790636 / 07824518641/ clare_hopps@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789.


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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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