World champion bodyboarder airlifted to hospital

World champion bodyboarder airlifted to hospital

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Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
The Shannon Coast Guard helicopter hovers over Ballard Bay yesterday – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

One of the world’s top bodyboarders was airlifted to hospital yesterday after suffering an injury off the Clare coast.

36-year-old Australian Ben Player was airlifted from the base of a 200 foot cliff near Doonbeg after falling ill while watching friends surfing.

Three times world champion Player suffered an injury earlier in the day while bodyboarding near Spanish Point.

He left the water and later travelled to Ballard Bay near Doonbeg where his friends took to the water while he watched from the shore.

Ballard Bay is home Reilly’s Wave, one of the best known waves in the world, that attracts professional surfers and body boarders from across the globe.

Members of Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club, who had also been in the area, were quick to rush to Mr Player’s aid when he suddenly felt unwell.

It’s now believed the blow he had suffered earlier in the day left him with internal injuries.

After the alarm was raised at around 3.00pm, the Irish Coast Guard marine rescue coordination centre at Valentia Island in Kerry mounted a rescue operation.

In the meantime, a member of the Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club, a qualified paramedic, assessed and comforted the injured Mr Player until rescue teams arrived.

Volunteers from the Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard arrived at the scene and made their way down to the shoreline by a ravine. They assisted and comforted the casualty while requesting assistance from the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
Kilkee Coast Guard volunteers had to travel across lands to reach the scene – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

They also placed the injured Mr Player in a stretcher and prepared him for the helicopter crew to winch on board.

Shortly after 4.00pm, the casualty was airlifted to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.

Body-boarding is a water sport where surfers rides a body-board in a similar fashion to surfing exact the rider lies on their board.

Mr Player is a three times world body boarding champion and considered a pioneer of the sport.

On Saturday night, a surfer was airlifted to safety after being left trapped at the bottom of a 300ft cliff for almost five hours.

The 26-year-old was last seen at around 5.00pm but it wasn’t until 7.15pm that he was officially reported missing.

The Doolin unit of the Coast Guard and the Arann Island’s RNLI lifeboat, along with members of Kilkee Coast Guard, Civil Defence and a HSE paramedic attended the incident.

The man was airlifted to University Hospital in Galway for treatment.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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