Two lifeguards saved the lives of bodyboarders in a dramatic rescue on Sunday – on the last final day of patrols.

Zack Martin and Adam Wiltshire were on duty at Church Cove, Gunwalloe when they spotted two bodyboarders being washed off course towards rocks, before one became submerged in the water.

Conditions at the time were described as overcast, with a moderate breeze and the 3ft to 4ft surf was building, with the first hurricane swells of September beginning to roll into the region's beaches.

At around 3.30pm Zack was patrolling at water's edge and Adam was in the water training on a rescue board.

As a larger set of waves came in, Zack spotted two bodyboarders drifting out of the flagged area into a strong rip current. He signalled for Adam to head across on the rescue board to helped them back to shore.

When Adam arrived, the bodyboarders, who were a couple in their 60s, were starting to drift towards the rocks to the right-hand side of the beach. The current was described as fierce, and they were moving incredibly quickly.

He signalled for backup and, after promptly notifying the coastguard, Zack entered the water on the second rescue board.

An RNLI spokesperson said: "The lifeguards reached the bodyboarders quickly but as they were attempting to recover them towards the shallower water, a large wave crashed onto them, pulling the rescue boards out of the grip of the lifeguards and washing all four of them around the rocky point, towards neighbouring Dollar Cove.

"The male casualty was washed into a small opening within the rocks with Adam, where they were getting churned around in the water.

"The female casualty had lost her bodyboard and been swept into a small gully with Zack. She was becoming exhausted and waves were surging in, forcing them both into the cliff as Zack tried to keep her above the water."


RNLI lifeguards Adam Wiltshire and Zack Martin carried out a rescue at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on Sunday Picture: RNLI

RNLI lifeguards Adam Wiltshire and Zack Martin carried out a rescue at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on Sunday Picture: RNLI


A local surfer had noticed what was happening and got out of the sea, running along the rocks from the beach with a couple of rescue tubes.

Also hearing what was happening through the initial radio communications were the RNLI lifeguards at neighbouring Poldhu Cove.

RNLI lifeguard Owen Goose ran across the coast path, joining the surfer on the rocks. Using the tubes, Owen, the surfer and Adam were able to haul up the male bodyboarder to safety onto the rocks.

The woman was in a more hazardous situation, as she and Zack were being pinned against the cliff by crashing waves.

Waiting for the right time between the waves, Adam managed to swim across to Zack with a rescue tube, and together they managed to guide her through the waves and current, back to where Owen was waiting.

Owen, alongside a few members of the public, then managed to lift her out of the water before the next wave washed them off the rocks.

The lifeguards helped the pair across the slippery boulders back to the beach, where they met colleagues from Mullion and Porthleven Coastguard Rescue Teams.

The coastguard medics assessed the couple for injuries, but thankfully they only had superficial scratches and bruises.

Lead RNLI lifeguard supervisor Adam Harris said: "This rescue took immense skill and determination. Zack and Adam willingly placed themselves in harm’s way to rescue two bodyboarders in very difficult conditions.

"Without the brave actions from the lifeguards, it would have been almost impossible to recover them to safety in time. With Owen's assistance and the help from the surfer and members of the public, the combined teamwork at Gunwalloe on Sunday was outstanding and we're extremely proud of them all."

The rescue happened on the final day of lifeguard patrols at Gunwalloe, as well as Polurrian and Porthleven around the coast, as the peak season draws to a close.

You can read the full list of beaches without lifeguards now, here: LISTED - 12 beaches in Cornwall where lifeguard cover ends today

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Matthew Trewhella said: "This rescue shows how important it is to visit an RNLI lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.

"We still patrol other beaches across the region including Gyllyngvase, Poldhu Cove, Kennack Sands and Praa Sands until the end of September, with Praa Sands being extended into October half-term.

"There's a forecast for constant large waves and strong winds to be hitting the south west over the next few weeks, so be extra careful if you are visiting the coast and follow the advice of our RNLI lifeguard teams."