Search sparked after kite surfer disappears from view

A MISSING kite surfer sparked a search mission for two life boats.

The volunteer RNLI crew at Selsey was paged at 9.50pm last Saturday after the Solent Coastguard received several reports from the Felpham and Pagham areas of a kite surfer a good distance off shore who disappeared from view.

The decision was made to get both of the Selsey RNLI lifeboats into the water.

RNLI volunteer and crew member Max Gilligan said: “The weather on scene was wind west north west force six with a moderate sea state and with darkness falling Solent Coastguards sent Littlehampton Coastguard team to Felpham and Pagham to speak to the first informants and also tasked the Helicopter Rescue 104 to carry out a search of the area.

“At 9.50pm Selsey lifeboat was tasked to join the search with both the all-weather Tyne class lifeboat voluntary worker and the inshore lifeboat D class Betty and Thomas Moore.”

The inshore lifeboat was also instructed to search close inshore from Pagham Harbour to Felpham checking the shoreline in case the surfer had come ashore.

Max said: “On reaching Felpham the inshore lifeboat fired a parachute flare to illuminate the surrounding area.

“On completion of this leg they were instructed to return to Pagham Harbour checking out Bognor rocks en route.

“When this was completed at a position half a mile south of Pagham they were stood down to return to station.”

The all-weather lifeboat was then instructed to search half of a mile off shore from Pagham Harbour to Bognor pier stepping in by 200 metres and then another 200 metres before going back towards the pier.

After completing the three legs of that search the lifeboat proceeded to a position 1.5 miles south of Pagham Harbour and searched up to Felpham stopping every 200 metres shutting down the engines and calling out. They then stepped out a further half a mile and headed to a position south of Pagham Harbour.

At 12.17am the following morning the search was terminated by Solent Coastguard with nothing found.

The crew for the all-weather lifeboat was Willy Pledger, Rob Archibald, Simon Berry relieve, Max Gilligan, Will Moir, John Reeves, Max Wiseman.

The inshore lifeboat was crewed by Colin Pullenger Helmsman, Gary Pearce and Pip Skeet.