Lifeguards to help kitesurfers

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Kitesurfers briefing the RNLI Lifeguards before practising rescues

RNLI volunteer lifeguards joined forces with the Kitesurf Centre at Camber Sands recently to share best practice in the most efficient ways to handle a kitesurf rescue.

The kites can make rescue difficult

Kitesurfing is an increasingly popular watersport and the Kitesurf Centre, established 11 years ago, is a popular destination for those, both local and from much further afield, who appreciate the ideal conditions at Camber: a large shallow, shelving beach and plenty of wind.
Rescuing a kitesurfer in difficulties requires a careful approach given the long lengths of carbon-fibre line involved, which can foul propellers and entangle limbs, and the forces the wind can bring to bear on the large sail.
Tristan Cawte at the Kitesurf Centre said: “Anything we can do to improve the safety and security of surfers in the water, especially those without local knowledge, we will, especially working with the lifeguards on the beach.”

Training is ongoing with the lifeguards

RNLI Lifeguards have been an established presence at Camber Sands for a year now and during the summer as many as eight can be on duty to go to the aid of anyone needing assistance. Using fast-rescue water craft they can reach casualties very quickly and are keen to have prepared for as many possible scenarios as possible.
“What we want to achieve,” explained RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Dominic Richard, “is to develop a better understanding of kitesurfing rescues by training with the local experts as part of our mission to help save lives at sea.”
Last August RNLI lifeguards based at Camber Sands faced a race against time after a kitesurfer was seriously injured when one of his lines snapped and his kite spiralled out of control, slamming him into the ground several times. The impact was so severe the man was unable to move and was trapped just feet from the water’s edge with the tide coming in fast.

Photo: Martin Bruce

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