RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat launch to rescue surfer in near gale conditions

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat was launched at 12.30pm on 15 December to rescue a surfer who was in difficulty near Woolacombe beach.

Ilfracombe RNLI Shannon class lifeboat: The Barry and Peggy High Foundation

RNLI/Steve Lowe

Ilfracombe RNLI Shannon class lifeboat: The Barry and Peggy High Foundation

The RNLI Ilfracombe Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was launched in challenging conditions with a force 7 south westerly wind and 3-4 metre swell. The man, who had been surfing with a friend who raised the alarm, was 450 metres away from the shore and was rapidly being pushed further out to sea by the strong winds.

The lifeboat made best speed out towards the surfer and quickly reached the man who was soon brought safely on board by the volunteer crew along with his surfboard. The lifeboat then returned to the station where the casualty was assessed, and he was able to get warm and dry. The man was cold and exhausted from being in the sea for a long period in rough conditions but did not require further medical attention.

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe’s RNLI Lifeboat, says: ‘The conditions at sea today were very difficult with strong winds and huge waves. The RNLI lifeboat crews train extensively in order to be able to carry out rescues in challenging conditions like today.'


Notes to editors

  • Ilfracombe lifeboat station has been operating since 1866. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to rnli.org/ilfracombe
  • Operations Manager Chris Wallis is available for interview
  • Ilfracombe RNLI station operates a Shannon class all weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and a D class inshore lifeboat The Deborah Brown II. The station also operates a Shannon launch and recovery vehicle The June and Gordon Hadfield.
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For more information please telephone Paula Kingdon, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07786 433744 or paula_kingdon@rnli.org.uk or Emma Haines, Press Officer (South) on 07786 668847 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk or contact RNLI Media and Public Relations 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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