RNLI urge public to heed safety advice ahead of large surf and strong winds

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards in the south west have experienced a busy October on the beaches so far with large surf conditions, mild temperatures and strong southerly winds. These conditions are predicted to hit the south west beaches again this weekend and throughout next week

so the RNLI are urging the public heading to the coast to visit a lifeguarded beach.

With the half-term holidays starting this weekend (Friday 21 October) and a forecasted period of large swell and mild temperatures, the RNLI are expecting beaches across the south west to be busy with the surf and strong southerly winds bringing with it challenging sea conditions, especially along the south coast.

Similar conditions were experienced on the north coast last weekend (Sunday 16 October) at Fistral beach in Newquay, where RNLI lifeguards dealt with multiple rescues involving surfers and swimmers.

Senior RNLI lifeguard at Fistral, Arron Evans, says:

‘The surf conditions started to increase throughout Saturday and by Sunday the swell was huge. We had the rescue water craft (RWC) in the water patrolling for most of the day and we were all on high alert and in constant radio communication with each other.’

Arron was carrying out RWC patrols across Fistral beach when lifeguards at the beach lifeguard unit (BLU) spotted a surfer getting into difficulty at the northern end of Fistral and being swept onto the rocks unable to paddle to safety.

Arron immediately responded to swoop in and pick up the surfer and his surfboard on the back of the RWC sled. The surfer held on tightly to the straps whilst Arron fought his way through the large breaking waves which were between 6-8 foot on an outgoing tide. The surfer then let go of the sled once he was in calmer water and paddled towards the shore, giving Arron the thumbs up that he was ok.

Arron adds:

‘This incident demonstrates the importance of always choosing to visit a lifeguarded beach, especially with such big swells forecast and the increased risk of rip currents. Rip currents are extremely dangerous and can catch anybody off-guard, so it is important to speak to the lifeguards before entering the water and know your limits if the sea conditions look challenging, like they were at the weekend.

‘If you find yourself caught in a rip current don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. If you can stand, wade don’t swim, but if you are out of your depth then try to swim or paddle parallel to the shore until you’re free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.’

Many beaches across the south west have finished their lifeguarding service for 2022, but the beaches listed below will have lifeguards on duty daily from 10am – 6pm from Saturday 22 October until Sunday 30 October where lifeguards will hang up their wetsuits for the season at 5pm on the last day due to the change of the clocks.

In Cornwall: Fistral, Perranporth, Porthmeor, Sennen, Tregonhawke, Praa Sands, Crantock, Towan, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Porthtowan, Gwithian North, Constantine, Harlyn, Polzeath, Widemouth, Summerleaze

In Devon: Bantham, Croyde, Woolacombe

In Jersey: Le Braye

Steve Instance, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the south west says:

‘The forecast is anticipating a solid southerly swell to hit the coast from Friday (21 October) and into the half-term week, coupled with strong south westerly winds meaning beaches along the south coast, where large surf conditions aren’t as frequent, are likely to experience challenging conditions.

‘We are anticipating a very busy half-term for the lifeguards and are urging anyone heading to the coast and planning to use the water, to always choose a lifeguarded beach. Please always swim and bodyboard between the red and yellow flags and surf between the black and white flags as this is the safest place which is actively patrolled by the lifeguards who can spot you and come to your aid if needed

‘The large surf conditions and strong southerly winds forecast next week means people should take extra care when planning their trip to the beach. Never enter the water alone and don’t push beyond your limits as that’s when you can get into danger. If you have any questions about the conditions speak to the lifeguards, who are always happy to help and can offer important safety advice. If you see anyone in trouble in the water, alert the lifeguards or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Notes to editors

· Please find attached images of RNLI lifeguards at Fistral beach (credit Darren Powell, Tabitha McCormick, Mat Hammond) and Porthmeor beach (credit James Warbey) over the weekend, plus Drone footage at Fistral beach (credit Sonny Timson).

· To find your nearest lifeguarded beach please visit: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol

· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers visit: www.rnli.org/donate

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement (south west) on 07929 673281 or [email protected] or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920 818807 or [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected].

Tabitha McCormick

Fistral RNLI lifeguards patrolling on RWC

James Warbey

Porthmeor RNLI lifeguards

Darren Powell

Fistral RNLI lifeguards on RWC

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.

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