Off duty RNLI lifeguard helps surfer in trouble at Chapel Porth

Off duty RNLI lifeguard helps surfer in trouble at Chapel Porth

Off duty RNLI lifeguard helps surfer in trouble at Chapel Porth

First published in News

A surfer in touble in the waves at Chapel Porth had a lucky escape on Wednesday thanks to an eagle-eyed off duty RNLI lifeguard.

Jos Lawrence raced back intio the water after a surf session to help the surfer who was caught in strong rip currents.

The volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew from St Agnes were also called out at around 10.40am.

Jos, 32 who lives in St Agnes and works as a lifeguard for the charity during the summer months was at the top of the beach changing having been in the water surfing, when he noticed another surfer entering the water.

Jos said: "‘It was about an hour before low tide and I knew the conditions were deteriorating quite quickly in the water. At Chapel Porth, and other beaches along the north coast, the recent storms have moved the sand around, forming newer and deeper channels through which the rip currents, which are strongest around low tide, are even more powerful.

"As soon as the guy’s feet left the ground he was swept out to sea, heading south towards Wheal Charlotte beach and quickly out of sight. My lifeguard training kicked in and I knew instinctively that he would need assistance getting back to shore so I grabbed another surfer’s long board, which is easier to paddle, and headed out to him.

"Before I left the beach I confirmed with Martyn Ward, RNLI lifeguard supervisor who was on the scene that he would call for support from St Agnes RNLI lifeboat.

"I quickly made my way to the surfer, who was composed but understandably a little nervous as to what was happening. I encouraged him to keep paddling. Not towards the cliffs where it could become even more dangerous, but in a diagonal direction out to sea, where the worst that could happen was that we might have to sit and wait for the lifeboat to come and pick us up.

"As we started to make head way, the waves started breaking and the strength of rip current eased A set of waves came through and I told the surfer to paddle hard to catch one in. The first wave tumbled him over, but he managed to get the second wave which took him towards the beach. I caught the next wave and made sure he reached the shore ok.

"The St Agnes RNLI inshore lifeboat crew were on the scene at this point, but we were thankfully safe on the beach. The gentleman was very thankful for our help."

The incident comes as the RNLI are advising surfers and beach goers to take extra care during the recent spell of sunny weather, with the access points and the profile of many beaches being drastically different due to the recent storms.

Drustan Ward, RNLI lifeguard supervisor says; ‘To the untrained eye, conditions on Wednesday were good, there was a nice wave and the sun was shining, but the deep channels created by shifting sand on Chapel Porth, and other beaches along the north coast, means the rip currents are really strong.

The incident on Wednesday had the potential to be extremely serious, but thankfully Jos was able to use his RNLI training to react quickly, backed up by the swift response from the volunteer RNLI crew at St Agnes who would have been called away from their day jobs.

I’d advise anyone looking to head down to the beach or getting in the water during this welcome spell of weather to take their time to study the conditions, learn to recognise a rip current, speak with locals and more experienced surfers and take extra care.’

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