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Coastguards issue danger warning to Cornish thrill-seekers

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 26, 2013

This is the moment a walker was almost swept off rocks by a 40ft column of water as he tried to get a closer look at the waves @ Picture: Paul Terry

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Coastguards have issued a warning after a walker was caught on camera clinging to rocks as powerful 40-foot waves battered over him.

The man was pictured apparently risking his life clambering over a craggy headland to get close to the sea.

But within seconds he was forced to cower and cling to rocks as huge walls of water weighing thousands of tonnes smashed into the coast.

Onlookers say the daredevil was then forced to desperately hang on as waves crashed in during some of the worst weather of the year. Shocked witnesses feared he would be swept out to sea from the rocks of Newquay, Cornwall.

It has prompted coastguards to issue fresh warnings to thrill seekers as large swell and impressive spray continue to draw crowds during the winter months.

Matt Pavitt, sector manager for North Cornwall, said people failed to realise that a single cubic metre of water weighs a tonne.

He said: ‘‘I doubt anyone would like a one-tonne bag of water swung at them. It’s incredibly dangerous. We don’t want to be the fun police, we just want to instil a bit of common sense. It’s incredibly impressive to watch the power of the ocean but you have to treat it with respect.

“Less than a foot of water will knock you off your feet, so at the height we’re talking about here you’ve got no chance of trying to stand up against it if it breaks over you.”

‘‘Our advice is to watch the waves from a safe distance otherwise you’re putting yourself in danger and those who come out to rescue you.”

Paul Terry, 35, of Newquay, who captured the images, said: ‘‘There were two people sat up by the headland, quite a way back, watching the spray.

‘‘Then the guy in the green jacket decided to try and get as close as he could. All of a sudden a huge wave came in and he had to duck out of the way behind the rocks.

‘‘It’s pretty dangerous and a lot of people seem to do it. If people get swept off then it can be a huge drain on resources, the coastguards and the RNLI.

‘‘People need to be careful. It’s a buzz watching it – it’s exciting, but you can still do it from a safe distance. There’s a lot of power in that spray when it comes down.”

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