Many unprepared for rough conditions

For many extreme sports enthusiasts strong winds and big waves are a blessing rather than a curse, but too many are taking on perilous conditions without the proper safety knowledge and preparation.

The sports, such as wind, kite and board surfing, jetskiing and canoeing, often rely on rough conditions, but with their growing popularity there are a greater number of inexperienced people partaking.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) 2006 rescue statistics show that launches to surf sport incidents have increased by over 15% from last year. Launches to kitesurfers went up 25% while launches to canoeists grew a staggering 40%.

“I understand why rough weather conditions can be tempting, but people – particularly in strong winds and cold seas – can become tired and vulnerable very quickly when things start to go wrong,” says Ray Barton, PWC instructor and the first RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer (LSSO) in Scotland. “It concerns me just how many people go to sea without following basic safety advice, which the RNLI offers free of charge.”

Matt Horton, an RNLI lifeguard manager as well as a surfer, adds: “RNLI statistics show a worrying increase in the number of incidents that lifeguards and lifeboat crews respond to. Most recently, RNLI lifeboat crews have launched to surfers in trouble in Wales and a kitesurfer in difficulties off Bournemouth, an incident which sadly ended in tragedy.”

You can get information on watersport safety, along with beach and sea safety, by phoning 0800 328 0600, emailing or visiting for downloadable factsheets.

To see the latest footage of the RNLI in action, as well as getting safety advice, visit’s Sea Rescue section .