Rogue wave flips rescuers' vessel

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 05:00 07/04/2011

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A rogue wave flipped two rescuers as they tried to help a kite surfer off Waitara yesterday.

The Waitara Surf Lifesaving IRB was launched just before 4pm after three kite surfers got into trouble when winds changed off the outer reef.

Acting Senior Sergeant Royston Betteridge said police were called by a member of the public and by the time they arrived two of the men had made it back to shore.

"The third man was in the water for quite some time, but when the IRB went out to get him it got into difficulty and flipped, which caused it to lose power."

Because of the low tide and conditions, other boats could not be sent out, he said.

"They had all their safety gear on, so they were in no real danger. It was unfortunate that they went to help and they ended up having engine problems."

The crew flipped the vessel back over and swam it back into shore – ironically with the help of the third kite surfer, who they had been sent to pick up.

After starting on the New Plymouth side of the sand bar, they washed up 200 metres along the beach, on the Urenui side.

Mr Betteridge said the kite surfers had been caught off guard by a changing offshore wind. It is believed one of the men lost about $2000 worth of kite surfing gear.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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