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Bude RNLI rescue professional kayaker caught out by conditions off Widemouth Bay

Lifeboats News Release

Bude RNLI was tasked to rescue a professional kayaker on Saturday evening after she capsized in large surf off Widemouth Bay.

Volunteer lifeboat crew were paged shortly after 11.30pm to respond to a 999 call from Ailien Rhijnsburger, a professional kayaker who is paddling around the UK solo. She was completing a leg from Trevose to Bude and had been unable to land at Bude due to the large surf, so she had returned south to find alternative safe landing but had capsized on rocks south west of Widemouth Bay.

The D class lifeboat was tasked and volunteer crew safely launched the lifeboat in the dark through the surf and proceeded to search the area. Staying in contact with Ailien, the volunteer lifeboat crew were able to advise her to flash a light to identify her position. The lifeboat was then manoeuvred towards her location with caution due to minimal visibility and large swell.

Ailien was happy to paddle away from the rocks towards the inshore lifeboat, as crew were unable to get any closer. Lifeboat volunteers illuminated the water throughout so she could see her exit route clearly. She was taken aboard the D-class and transported back to shore with her five-metre kayak.

Ailien says: ‘I had missed my safe haven that I’d planned to land in so was looking for somewhere else to land. There was too much surf to go into Bude so I started paddling back and capsized in the surf. The Bude RNLI volunteers came out through the surf and in the dark to save somebody they didn’t know, it’s amazing. I had all the recommended safety gear on board but knew I wasn’t able to get any closer to the shore safely in the surf so made the call before I got into more difficulty. Everybody at Bude RNLI has been amazing and have gone above and beyond my expectations.’

Ailien was provided with accommodation overnight by a crewmember and returned to the station in the morning to meet up with crew. She is currently staying in Bude until the weather settles for her to continue her trip.

Bude RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager Chris Wilson says: ‘Ailien is an experienced Dutch kayaker and as such was fully equipped, trained and prepared. Her sea experience and the fact that she was carrying the correct safety equipment ensured that the volunteer crew were able to carry out a rescue safely in difficult conditions. It just goes to show that even the most experienced people can get caught out by the sea and reiterates the importance of respecting the water.’

Notes to editors

The attached photo shows Ailien Rhijnsburger, with volunteer lifeboat crew at Bude RNLI. Credit RNLI/Bude.

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For more information contact Emma Haines, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07786 668847 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk or Chloe Smith, RNLI Press Officer, on 07920 818807 or chloe_smith@rnli.org.uk or the RNLI Duty Press Officer on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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