Camber lifeguards practice kitesurf rescue after serious incident

RNLI lifeguards practice rescuing kitesurfers. Picture supplied by the RNLI
RNLI lifeguards practice rescuing kitesurfers. Picture supplied by the RNLI

RNLI volunteer lifeguards at Camber Sands have been practising the most efficient way to handle a kitesurf rescue after a kitesurfer was seriously injured at the beach last year.

Last August, RNLI lifeguards based at Camber Sands faced a race against time when a kitesurfer’s 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.

This year, the volunteer lifeguards have been looking to learn from the incident and this month they joined forces with the Kitesurf Centre at Camber Sands to share the best practice in rescuing a kitesurfer.

Dominic Richard, the RNLI lifeguard supervisor, said: “What we want to achieve 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.”

Kitesurfing is an increasingly popular watersport and the Kitesurf Centre, established 11 years ago, is a popular destination for those 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.”

RNLI Lifeguards have been an established presence at Camber Sands for a year now and, during the summer, as many as eight lifeguards can be on duty to help anyone needing assistance in the water or on the beach.