Kitesurfing tragedy in strong winds

Boat launched : Atlantic 85

Date : Sunday 5 March

Launched at : 10:35

Returned at : 12:30

Weather : Strong F6/7 with F8 gusts and squally showers.

On Sunday morning 5 March Hayling RNLI Lifeboat was called to a kitesurfer in difficulties in Hayling Bay, but neither they nor the helicopter para-medics were able to save his life.

The Hayling Kite School manager made a call directly to Hayling RNLI Lifeboat Station reporting a kitesurfer in the water in Hayling Bay, not showing signs of getting back on his board. As the lifeboat crew were already in their kit and about to launch on exercise they were diverted to go to assist the casualty and the Coastguard was informed that the Atlantic 85 lifeboat was on its way. They arrived on scene in 13 minutes due to the low tide and rough conditions with a F6/7 SW wind at times gusting F8 and with squally rain and hail showers.

The experienced local kitesurfer had been using an 11m kite and had been hit by one of the squalls. Another kitesurfer saw him depower the kite but the next time he saw the casualty he was in the water and not climbing back onto his board, so he went over to see if he could help and found the casualty face down in the water. He managed to turn the casualty over and then with considerable skill towed him and the kite towards the shore. He realised however that he was not going to make it and so let the casualty drift onto a yellow marker buoy and he set off for the shore to raise help.

At this point the Hayling Lifeboat arrived and at first thought the assisting kitesurfer was the one in trouble but he pointed to the casualty held by the yellow buoy. The lifeboat crew took the casualty on board and cut away the rigging and kite and immediately started CPR. The helm headed for the shore pausing to pick up the other kitesurfer and decided that although the tide was low and the lifeboat would not normally beach, in this crisis situation he needed to get the casualty ashore. The crew used oxygen and continued CPR and the S&R Helicopter was paged. It arrived very quickly and the helicopter para-medics took over the casualty who was transferred to a stretcher and airlifted to QA hospital. Sadly we were later informed that he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Portsmouth RNLI Lifeboat crew were already afloat on exercise and heard the Hayling Lifeboat radio call for medical assistance, so they raced to the scene and transferred two crew to the beach. They assisted with the transfer of the casualty then once the helicopter had taken off and they helped to re-launch a heavy Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

Both crews returned to base after this very sad incident which none of the attending emergency services could prevent, conscious once again of the power and unpredictability of the sea and the weather.

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Service Numbers 2018

Total Launches: 14
Atlantic 85: 9
D-Class: 5

Services Totals

2015 - 67
2014 -77
2013 - 86
2012 - 77

Tide Times
Tide Times & Heights for Chichester Harbour (Entrance) on Wednesday, 23 January 2019
High Tide: 00:40 ( 5.00m )
Low Tide: 05:57 ( 0.70m )
High Tide: 12:49 ( 5.00m )
Low Tide: 18:23 ( 0.50m )
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