A kitesurfer reported missing and feared drowned off Kerry yesterday turned up safe in Co Clare late last night.
A major land, air and sea search was launched after the man was reported missing off Ballybunnion earlier. It’s understood the kitesurfer, last seen around 4.30pm off Ballybunnion, was reported missing after he failed to return to shore.
The alarm was raised at around 5.00pm and a major multi-agency operation was launched. The Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, was tasked to the scene along with the Ballybunnion unit of the Irish Coast Guard, Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue Service, Ballybunion Fire Service and Gardaí.
The Fenit RNLI lifeboat was also sent to the area while the Irish Naval vessel LÉ Niamh, which was nearby at the time, was also requested to assist in the search.
As the search moved north across the mouth of the Shannon Estuary the Kilrush RNLI lifeboat was also launched to help with the operation.
The kitesurfer later made his way to Kilkee after making it safely ashore near Querrin where he met a member of the public who alerted gardaí and the ambulance service.
The man was taken to University Hospital Limerick for treatment following his 7-hour ordeal.
The search operation was coordinated by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.
Speaking following the call out, Charlie Glynn, Kilrush RNLI crew member and Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘This is such good news this morning and we are delighted that after the windsurfer was missing for so long yesterday evening, that this man is alive.
While we don’t have the details from the casualty’s perspective, he had to have been an experienced windsurfer who was wearing the correct clothing and gear and who knew what to do when he got into difficulty. He stayed with his board and managed somehow to travel the long distance to shore. All in the RNLI wish him well for a full and speedy recovery following what must have been a frightening experience for him.