NEARLY 50 people were rescued from deadly rip currents in Cornwall yesterday.
The news has sparked a stern warning by RNLI lifeguards to beach goers to take “extra care” in the water.
RNLI lifeguards pulled 12 people out of the sea at Fistral beach, Newquay, in just one incident alone.
A further 15 people were pulled to safety on nearby Perranporth beach after they were swept out to sea in a flash rip current while RNLI lifeguards at Constantine rescued 18 people and a further three were rescued at Mawgan Porth, near Newquay.
RNLI lifeguard at Fistral Jackson Howell was patrolling the bathing area on a rescue board when the incident occurred.
He and his colleagues, Leon Mansfield and Anthony Middleton, responded immediately, grabbing their rescue boards and darting into the sea.
Mr Howell said: “We also had some casualty care situations at the top of the beach, so we didn’t have the man power to launch the Rescue Water Craft, however the three experienced lifeguards rescued 12 people on rescue boards and assisted a further three or four back to shore.
“We’re experiencing low spring tides, which when coupled with a large swell, work to intensify the rip currents.
"It’s quite common to experience these conditions on the north coast, and the RNLI lifeguards are used to managing the bathing area, however it’s really important that bathers and body boarders help themselves by staying within their depth, making sure they are between the red and yellow flags and listening to the lifeguards advise.”
Low spring tides combined with a building swell is amplifying the strength and intensity of the existing rip currents and creating flash rips, resulting in bathers being suddenly swept out of their depth.
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Lewis Timson had just arrived at Fistral and saw one of the rescues unfold.
He said: “The swell had been building all day, with long lulls in the sets of waves coming though.
“This meant the bathers and body boarders, who were between the red and yellow flags, fell into a false sense of security and drifted a bit too far out. When a set of waves came though, they were suddenly swept out and beyond their depth.”
The RNLI has also created a free ‘beach finder’ mobile app to help people find their nearest lifeguarded beach. It can be downloaded from www.rnli.org/beach.