Windsurfer rescued as Paekakariki lifeguards' training session turns serious

The exhausted windsurfer had run out of energy to climb back on his board.
KIRK HARGREAVES / FAIRFAX NZ

The exhausted windsurfer had run out of energy to climb back on his board.

Luck was on the side of an exhausted windsurfer when he floated towards a groups of lifeguards on a training run in Wellington.

Three Paekakariki surf boat crews were finishing an afternoon of training in the sheltered waters of Plimmerton on Sunday when a man told them someone was in trouble.

Shane Radovanovich, sweep for the crew who recovered the "middle-aged man", said the man was "drifting aimlessly".

The Paekakariki open women's surf boat crew in action.
FILE

The Paekakariki open women's surf boat crew in action.

He was hanging onto his board, which was on its side, not attempting to get back on, he said. 

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He was seen floating towards Titahi Bay, about a kilometre from the Plimmerton shoreline. 

"I think he was pretty exhausted. He'd fallen off that many times he didn't have the energy," Radovanovich said.

"He was a pretty tired boy when we got to him."

Two of the crews, including 10 lifeguards, helped to bring in the man, who was being buffeted by swells and northwesterly winds of about 50kmh.

One crew picked up the man, while the other dismantled his board. 

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Radovanovich said the man had no injuries. 

Another windsurfer was helping to calm down the man when the crews arrived, Lifeguard Richard Whinham said. 

The rescue took about 20 minutes, yet the tricky dismantling of the board took lifeguards twice as long, Radovanovich said.

Both crews were fighting against the swells to get back in, he said.

The rescue was not that much of a surprise, Radovanovich said. 

Earlier in the season, a Paekakariki crew helped tow a broken-down boat into shore during training at Plimmerton, and Radovanovich said they had checked on another windsurfer earlier on Sunday who looked to be in trouble. 

The crews were in training for the national surf life saving championships in Christchurch next month. 

 - Stuff

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