RNLI Ilfracombe and Appledore Lifeboats launch to four surfers in distress

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboats were tasked by the Coastguard at 6.01 p.m. on Tuesday 26 May to assist four surfers in difficulty at Barricane Beach Woolacombe.

Inshore lifeboat at sea with sea fog in background

RNLI/Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe RNLI inshore lifeboat returning to station from search for missing surfers

The RNLI volunteer crew launched the inshore D class lifeboat Deborah Brown II at 6.05 p.m. and the relief all-weather Shannon class lifeboat Cosandra at 6.10 p.m. Following a speedy launch of both boats, they proceeded with caution to Woolacombe through dense sea fog.

The lifeboats reached Woolacombe 12 minutes later and started to search along the area where it had been reported that the four surfers had been caught in a rip current and were being carried out to sea. With the fog reducing visibility to less than 50 metres, the lifeboats carried out a parallel track search along the shoreline and moving out to sea as far as Baggy Point but there was no sign of the surfers. At 7.00 p.m. RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey requested that the Coastguard launch the RNLI Appledore lifeboats in case the surfers had been swept around Baggy Point to Croyde or Saunton.

The Appledore Tamar class all-weather lifeboat Mollie Hunt and the inshore B class lifeboat Glanely were launched immediately and joined in the search. All four lifeboats continued a coordinated search until 8.10 p.m. when the Coastguard reported that the surfers had been found onshore. Both crews were then stood down by the Coastguard and returned to station with the both the Appledore and Ilfracombe lifeboats arriving home at 8.30 p.m. where they were recovered ready for the next service.

RNLI Ilfracombe Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘search conditions were difficult in the sea fog however we are very glad that the surfers were found and that no one was hurt. With the surf conditions today, the waves were very big and should only be attempted by experienced surfers confident in their abilities. We would ask everyone who is thinking of entering the water to follow RNLI advice and take extra care as there are no lifeguards in duty. Now is not the time to be trying out new watersports, or for inexperienced people to be surfing. Anyone entering the water should be aware of rip currents and should check the weather and surf forecast as well as sea temperature and tide times.’

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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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