Footage has been released by the UK Coastguard showing a helicopter winchman clinging onto rocks in rough seas as he goes to the aid of three people

The UK Coastguard has released dramatic footage showing one of its helicopter winchman clinging onto a rock as he is battered by waves during a rescue.

The incident happened off the coast of Bude in North Cornwall.

The Newquay-based helicopter crew were scrambled to help rescue three people who had been cut off from the tide.

The cliffs at Bude were too steep to effect a rescue via land.

Coastguard winch operator, Ginge Steabler, said it was a challenging rescue for a number of reasons.

“Firstly the worrying picture of how many people were involved and their location; the close proximity of the casualties to the cliff; the weather with an offshore wind blowing directly onto the cliff, large waves, messy surf and peaking high tide,” he explained.

The footage shows Coastguard winchman, Mark ‘Spike’ Hughes, being lowered on the winch towards one of the casualties.

As he is manoeuvred towards the man on the rock, he is hit a by a large unsighted wave.

A Coastguard helicopter winchman holds onto rocks in rough seas during a rescue

The winchman clinging onto the rocks. Credit: MCA

Recovering quickly he is hit a second time just as he is placing the strop over the casualty. Still attached to the winch wire, both were swept into the sea.

They were winched quickly out of the surf but as they came out, Hughes realised the rescue strop was just around the man’s arm.

Using the wireless radio, he directed they were to be taken to the beach, what little of it that was left, at the base of the cliff.

A man is winched to safety from rough seas in Bude

The man is winched to safety. Credit: MCA

Safely ashore, the second casualty was located on the beach safe and well with the third casualty (who had made the call to the Coastguard) who had climbed down the cliff to offer assistance.

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All three were subsequently winched into the helicopter and two of the casualties were taken to Derriford hospital suffering from mild hypothermia.

Helicopter captain Graham ‘Sharky’ Finn said: “This video clearly shows what can happen when people are cut off by the tide, but also the sterling job Spike the winchman did in the harsh conditions and rapidly changing situation to successfully rescue the casualties.”

Speaking after the incident, Alan Pickersgill, UK Coastguard, said: “This incident could so easily have turned into a really tragic one. If you see someone in difficulty at sea or along the Coast please immediately call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

“If you are going out for a walk along the shore make sure that you check the tide times – you will often see this information at the entry to beaches or check it online – and ensure that you are back in plenty of time,” he added.