Kite Surfing the Wash for RNLI

A team of kite surfers from the Norfolk area have successfully managed to cross The Wash, from Hunstanton to Skegness in aid of the RNLI.

Three members of the RAF Power Kiting Association (RPKA) joined the team of locals from the Hunstanton Sailing Club. Flt Lt Ruck, SAC(T) Andy Brown and SAC(T) Jonathan Gill from Tornado Support Sqn, kicked off fundraising efforts in early June undertaking bucket collections in the seaside holiday resort of Hunstanton. Meanwhile, meticulous planning went into the event to ensure that the 18 personnel would be able to cross the 20 mile stretch of sea in relative safety. Three safety boats along with volunteer crews were assembled at the ready, four consecutive weekends had been reserved for the crossing in order to ensure optimum weather and tidal conditions. After close liaison with the Met Office the decision was made to commit to Saturday 30th June, consistent 20 knot southerly winds were due to provide ideal conditions.

With the team’s sponsorship totalling over £5,000 the pressure was on to complete the challenge. On the morning of the event, Vanessa Procter from the RPKA stepped in as a last minute replacement for SAC(T) Andy Brown, after brief introductions the team rigged their kites in the sunshine on the beach in preparation for their 13:00 departure time. With the Coast Guard notified, personal flares issued, buoyancy aids checked and a safety brief delivered, the team launched their kites and headed for the horizon. As the Norfolk coastline faded into the distance, the rough sea state proved fatiguing, however the slow emergence of Skegness’s distinct seaside silhouette proved motivating to all. The exhausted team arrived jelly-legged to a small gathering of friends and family on the golden beaches after just 1 hour and 15 minutes of time on the water, a truly impressive accomplishment and a relief not to have had to call upon the services of the RNLI.

Hunstanton’s volunteer RNLI crews have had several call-outs this year to attend kite surfing incidents of varying severity. With the popularity of kite surfing increasing on the Hunstanton coast, it’s critical that the kite surfing community does its best to support the RNLI, with well over £5,000 raised it is hoped that this will go a little way to assist in the training and equipment costs for the crews.

For more information on the event or kite surfing in the RAF, contact Flt Lt Alex Ruck on Ext: 5211 or visit www.raf.mod.uk/rafpowerkiting.

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