A KITE surfer owes his life to Port Talbot’s lifeboat crew who plucked him to safety when he got into trouble at sea.
He was left stranded in poor conditions a mile off Aberavon Beach when the kite broke free.
It blew back to shore and was reported by passers-by.
That triggered a rescue mission involving RNLI crew members Leon Murphy, Rebecca Owen and David Protheroe.
Port Talbot lifeboat station spokesman said the call came in at around 12.55pm on Tuesday.
“The kite became detached from the board and ended up on the beach where it was seen by members of the public,” said RNLI spokesman Mel Cooper.
“It was reported to one of the lads at the lifeboat station. He took a look and could see this chap was about a mile offshore in very choppy conditions.
“The Coastguard was alerted and they paged us.
“The lifeboat was launched in fairly difficult conditions. It was quite choppy with a strong wind blowing, reaching force six, which is just below gale force.
“When the crew reached the casualty he was on his board on top of a very heavy swell, waving his arms. He was in trouble, no two ways about it.”
Mr Cooper said the crew pulled the man into the lifeboat and took him to shore, where the RNLI Land Rover conveyed him to the lifeboat station.
“Apart from being very cold he was not physically injured.
“Once we got him to the station he was given a hot shower and a hot drink to warm him up,” said Mr Cooper.
“After that he was interviewed by the Coastguard, which is standard procedure.
“After about an hour he was feeling OK so he went on his way. The crew recovered the kite and everything was sorted.”
Mr Cooper said the rescued man had been with a second surfer, who had lost his equipment but managed to swim back to shore unaided.
“He had been trying to help this other chap retrieve his lost equipment when he got into difficulty himself.
“If it hadn’t been for the swift reaction of the lifeboat team after the matter was reported, it could have been a different outcome. He could easily have drowned.”