A large area of sea and shoreline was searched from lunchtime on Monday when the alarm was raised, involving RNLI lifeboats from Campbeltown and Islay in Scotland and Red Bay in Co Antrim, as well as coastguard rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen, and HM Coastguard’s rescue helicopter based at Prestwick.
Dawn Petrie at Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre, who was co-ordinating the search, said: “Hope was fading of finding the surfer safe and well after such a long period in the water and with nightfall approaching we were gravely concerned.
“But at 7.30pm tonight, the crew on the coastguard rescue helicopter were delighted when they located the man still with his surfboard and 13 miles off the coast.
“He was kitted out with all the right clothing including a thick neoprene suit and this must have helped him to survive for so long at sea. He is hypothermic but conscious and has been flown to hospital in Belfast.”
HM Coastguard reminds all coastal users this summer to be prepared before you go out on the water or at the coast where conditions can change quickly. Tell someone where you are going and take an appropriate means of raising the alarm in an emergency.
A Northern Ireland lifeboat was involved in the huge search and rescue operation for a missing surfer who left a Scottish beach on Sunday morning and spent 32 hours at sea before being found last night (Monday 1 May). Red Bay RNLI were requested to launch by Belfast coastguard to join with the Scottish lifeboats, Campbeltown and Islay, along with rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen and the Coastguard rescue helicopter based at Prestwick. The man was eventually located by the coastguard helicopter and transferred to hospital.
The young man had set off to go surfing off the Argyll coast on Sunday morning and had not been heard from since 11.30am. In a huge search operation RNLI lifeboats were launched on both sides of the Irish Sea with Scottish and Irish lifeboats searching the extensive body of water for the missing man.
At 7.30pm the missing surfer was located by the coastguard helicopter and was still with his surfboard 13 miles off the coast.
Commenting on the search and rescue operation Red Bay RNLI Coxswain Paddy McLaughlin said, ‘This was a huge search and rescue operation. To have lifeboats launched from both Scotland and Ireland shows the incredible effort that went into the search. Our lifeboat crews along with our colleagues in the coastguard undertook an extensive and detailed search in the large area between the two coasts and thankfully this resulted in a successful outcome.’
‘The young man wore the correct clothing and stayed with his surfboard, giving himself valuable time and keeping safe. It just shows that even after 32 hours at sea people can be found and rescued. We wish the young man a full recovery after his ordeal.’