Poldhu surf instructors in rip current rescue
12:00pm Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in News
Two surf teachers put their own safety in jeopardy by launching into a dangerous rip current at Poldhu to rescue a stricken body boarder.
Dan Joel and Dai Lawton were minutes away from leaving the beach when they were hailed by a worried member of the public, Matt Hendy, who had spotted two holidaymakers in trouble about 300 metres out to sea.
At around 8.15pm, the lifeguards had already finished work for the day and Dan and Dai had been packing up from the children’s surfing club they run on Friday evenings, as part of Dan’s surf school on the beach where Dai is a trainer. They instantly grabbed a long board and paddled out into heavy surf, where they found one man in his thirties had managed to wedge himself onto a rock.
However a second tourist, also in his mid thirties, was being battered against the cliffs and swallowing water. Hauling him onto the board, it took almost 15 minutes of battling against the rip current to get him to safety, helped by another surfer, Ruan.
Dan said: “He was really struggling. It was pretty lucky we had the kids’ club that night – we only have it once a week – and we were about to go. Five or ten minutes later we’d have been gone.”
He said that had the holidaymaker not been reached when he had, his prospects would have been “pretty bleak.”
“The rip was like a river. It could have been bad,” he added, describing it as “unseasonable surf conditions.”
Dan said the rescue was a team effort, with the member of the public spotting the holidaymakers and Ross Hocking from the beach cafe calling 999. A search and rescue squadron from RNAS Culdrose was scrambled, landing on the beach to meet the rescue party.
Dan said: “When we got him to the beach he was conscious but had taken on loads of water. He was in a bad way and bleeding from [hitting] the rocks.”
The holidaymaker was airlifted to hospital by the helicopter and treated for his injuries, but is understood to have since been released. The plan had been to go back for the other man, clinging to the rocks, once the more seriously hurt body boarder had been taken to safety.
Fortunately this was not necessary, as the holidaymaker had managed to scramble up the cliff face to safety and make his way back to the beach.
Dan said: “If there’s a message to be given it would be that Poldhu is a brilliantly safe beach when it’s lifeguarded. It’s one of the safest beaches around. But if you have not been out much or are not experienced, you should never go out on body boards when there are no lifeguards.
“If the lifeguards had been there they’d have said for them to get in between the flags. It was dangerous surf and they went in completely the wrong part of the beach.”