Donate now

RNLI in Cornwall work together to rescue exhausted stand up paddleboarder

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards patrolling Seaton beach in south east Cornwall, and the volunteer lifeboat crew from Looe worked together to rescue an exhausted stand up paddle boarder (SUP) who was struggling to get back to shore on Monday (21 May).

The incident unfolded at around 4.30pm, when RNLI lifeguards Beau Gillet and Sophie Conway noticed a stand up paddle boarder struggling to get back onto his board, some 350 metres off the shore. After keeping a watch on him for a short while, it became apparent that he was in some difficulty and Beau radioed his brother and colleague Tristan Gillet who was at the water’s edge to investigate further.

Tristan used the lifeguard rescue board to paddle out to the casualty, as he got closer the man started to shout for help. Tristan reached him quickly and got him to hold onto the paddleboard and catch his breath before attempting to get him onto the rescue board to take him back to shore. Unfortunately due to the exhaustion of the casualty it proved difficult and after some attempts Tristan was joined by Beau.

Beau says;

‘The man was well equipped with a lifejacket and a mobile phone in an aqua pack, however he was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt and although it was a hot day, the water is still really cold. Once he’d fallen in the water, the shock of the cold had quickly taken effect on his body and made it difficult for him to get back on the paddle board.

By this time he was cold and exhausted, panic had set in and we really struggled to get him on the rescue board. We called for backup from Looe lifeboat.’

The volunteer RNLI crew at Looe were paged and launched the Atlantic class inshore lifeboat Shelia and Dennis Tongue II immediately, arriving on scene quickly. Between them and the lifeguards they were able to transfer the casualty into the lifeboat, and the crew bought him safely back to shore.

Beau continues

‘The weather conditions were excellent for paddle boarding yesterday, the water was flat calm and there was little wind. However the situation can change quickly, thankfully we were on duty at the time and able to react quickly when we saw the casualty in difficulty and prevent a more serious incident occurring. We were able to work alongside the volunteer lifeboat crew from Looe to bring the casualty back to shore safely.’

RNLI lifeguards across the south west are dedicated to providing a professional rescue service to those who need it and last year, dealt with 7,962 incidents, assisting 10,080 people.

To find out how you can stay safe while enjoying your water activity, visit

Notes to editors
  • Please see the short piece of footage of the RNLI lifeguards and volunteer crew working together here
  • Please see attached image of the Looe Atlantic class inshore lifeboat credit RNLI/Ian Foster
  • In 2017, RNLI lifeguards across the south west dealt with 7,982 incidents, assisting 10,080 people
RNLI media contacts

For more information contact Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920818807 or [email protected] or Carrie Garrad, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07786 668847 or [email protected]

RNLI/Ian Foster

Looe RNLI Atlantic class Shelia and Dennis Tongue II

Key facts about the RNLI

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.