- 14 July 2008 | Kiteboarding
A team of rowers saved the day after a kitesurfer became separated from his kite. They retrieved £700-worth of kitesurfing equipment, which was lost by Pete Jennings in Portland Harbour. The visiting American, 37, got into difficulty when his kite was blown away by strong winds.
The crew of Weymouth Rowing Club gig Sir Tristan responded to a Coastguard appeal to help retrieve the 12-metre surfing kite. Chris Barsky, trainee coxswain of Sir Tristan, said: "We were the only craft which responded and it was quite an achievement because we are just a rowing boat.
"With so much rope trailing behind the kite, it could have endangered fishing boats. We guided our gig to intercept the kite. We were in the right place at the right time."
Mr Jennings, who lives in Nottingham but was holidaying in Dorset, had taken up kitesurfing as a new hobby. He said: "I was being pulled along and I got in over my head. The safety release went and the kite just disappeared, and I saw it float off into the distance."
Mr Jennings managed to swim back to the shore and reported his loss to the Coastguard. The crew aboard Sir Tristan, who were rowing in Portland Harbour, took around 10 minutes to locate the equipment.
Mr Barksky said: "We were out training for a forthcoming regatta. We managed to locate the kite even though it had been swept out of the harbour into the open sea. The worst part was rowing against a Force 5 wind. It was 10 minutes of hard rowing."
Less than half an hour later, Detroit-born Mr Jennings was reunited with his kite. He said: "It's hardly been damaged. I've been very fortunate and in hindsight I wouldn't have gone out in the first place because I wasn't able to control my board properly. It was a stupid thing to do. Everyone was very kind, and it was really nice when everyone was so helpful."
After the rescue Mr Jennings joined the rowers for a drink to thank them for their efforts.
Source: This is Dorset/Weymouth Rowing Club