Two kiteboarders rescued off Blackie Spit

A call to help a struggling kiteboarder turned into a two-for-one rescue operation Sunday, after members of Crescent Beach Coast Guard Auxiliary discovered a second person in trouble.

The crew had pulled the first man to safety and was looking for his board when they happened upon the second man, the team’s Sig Kristensen explained.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t find the board, but we found another person in trouble,” Kristensen said. “Nobody had reported him.”

The team was dispatched to the waters off Blackie Spit just after noon Jan. 16, after a man called the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria to report that his friend was in trouble.

The auxiliary crew found the man in about 30 minutes, Kristensen said. By then, he was just over a kilometre from the shore.

They searched for the board in the hopes of averting a possible call-out in the future, in the event a board is discovered floating unattended.

The second distressed kiteboarder was discovered during that process, in the same area but slightly closer to shore, Kristensen said. He still had his board, but was having difficulty getting back to dry ground.

"The wind was good right where they were, but once they got out a bit, the wind was shifting, and they couldn't get back in," Kristensen said.

The rescues were not the first of their kind in recent months. Nov. 1, the Crescent Beach crew pulled a man in his 30s from the water after he became tangled in his gear while kiteboarding.

About a month later, two brothers were rescued – one of whom had set out in a plastic kayak to look for his sibling when he ran into trouble.

Kristensen noted crews were able to respond to the latest incident quickly as a result of the distress call being placed directly to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre. He estimated that alone shaved at least 15 minutes off the response time, compared to if the call had gone first to a 911 dispatcher.

Calling for help is a safer way to go, Kristensen said, noting citizens who try to effect their own rescue mission often end up needing help themselves.

"We'd rather have them call us," he said. "Inevitably, they just become part of the problem."

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