Surfer safe after drama in rough seas

IAN CLARKE A windsurfer swam half a mile to safety in rough open seas and strong winds after losing his sailboard.Jason Hatton, 35, of Postwick, near Norwich, was windsurfing off Bob Hall Sands - about a mile north of Wells - at about 9am on Saturday when he fell off his board.

IAN CLARKE

A windsurfer swam half a mile to safety in rough open seas and strong winds after losing his sailboard.

Jason Hatton, 35, who lives near Norwich, was windsurfing off Bob Hall Sands - about a mile north of Wells - at about 9am on Saturday when he fell off his board.

The weekend had some of the biggest tides of the year and there was a six knot tide and force five westerly winds, making the sea conditions “treacherous.”

Mr Hatton - who has been windsurfing for about three years - said after he fell in the water and tried to right himself a wave snatched the board from his grasp.

Despite repeated attempts to swim back to it, each time he was within a couple of feet, the surf carried it away again.

Most Read

Eventually he had to abandoned his equipment - which is worth nearly £2000 - and swam about a half mile to the shore at East Hills.

He was spotted and the RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched and took him across the channel to the lifeboat station.

Mr Hatton said he is not a great swimmer but added: “I was afloat, calm and warm so wasn't too worried. The only panic was when the board went away and I couldn't get back to it. I just had to relax and swim back.

“Once I got to shore I was just walking back and thought I would not make much of a spectacle and then I saw the boat launch!”

Mr Hatton - a member of the RNLI - thanked the crew for their help and said he was “fine” and actually went back into the water at East Runton later in the day.

He added: “When I first went out in the morning it was beautiful and conditions were not too bad.”

Mr Hatton was using a Tabou sailboard, which has a blue and silver sail with a foil patch near the top.

Coastguards have been informed of its loss to warn shipping.

He was wearing full waterproof clothing and had a lifejacket but had no form of communication with him.

Lifeboat officials have advised windsurfers to carry mini flares which can be let off if they get into trouble.