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News Archive > General > Spectacular seas spark action – and danger

Spectacular seas spark action – and danger

By Warren Wilkins 3rd February 2021

Spectacular seas spark action – and danger
Bodyboarder Rob Barber tackles the conditions

Wave-watchers have been out in force to experience spectacular giant waves around the Newquay coastline. But the rare conditions sparked calls to the emergency services, safety warnings and concerns about lockdown rules being flouted.

The swell started building on Saturday morning and peaked on Monday, producing waves more than 20 feet high. Crowds gathered at Towan Headland to watch the drama unfold as experienced surfers took on the huge swell at North Fistral and the Cribbar reef break.

The massive clean waves were generated by two back-to-back low-pressure systems combining with light offshore winds. Emergency services appealed for only experienced surfers to paddle out due to the challenging conditions after the Coastguard had to deal with a number of incidents.

Newquay RNLI was sent to help a surfer reported to be in difficulty at Towan Head on Saturday at 1.40pm. Both of the charity’s inshore lifeboats were launched and reached the scene shortly before 2pm, with a seven- to eight-feet swell breaking.

The lifeboat crews confirmed the person had made their way to safety via the rocks.

In a further incident a surfer became detached from their board, and needed help from Newquay Coastguard An RNLI spokesman said: “With large surf conditions and spring tides over the next week few days, please respect the water, and in an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

A Coastguard spokesman added: “Due to challenging coastal conditions, HM Coastguard has dealt with a number of incidents involving surfers in Cornwall. These have included a broken leg in one incident and a broken hip in another.

“Large swells, spring high tides and high winds have made conditions challenging for surfers. “Conditions are expected to be even more difficult with potential gales.

“There is a real concern that lifeboats and rescuers will struggle to launch if people find themselves in trouble.” Police officers spoke to people parked at the Towan Headland car park on Monday to check for possible breaches of covid lockdown rules, and later closed the car park.

Inspector Guy Blackford urged people to exercise elsewhere if the area is busy. But for experienced surfers, the conditions were “an amazing opportunity”. Bodyboarder Rob Barber said: “For a swell as big as this to coincide with light winds and good tides is quite rare, so it’s been a really amazing opportunity to see a huge swell light up every one of Newquay’s beaches.

“It’s been great to see so many of the Newquay surfers and bodyboarders scoring amazing waves. “We’re so lucky to have this as an incredible distraction during lockdown. Everybody has stayed safe and enjoyed themselves which is great to see.”

By Warren Wilkins 3rd February 2021

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