Lightning strikes RS:X windsurfers

August 20, 2011 | Windsurfing
RS:X: lightning proof

Ricardo Bimba Santos was hit by a lightning while competing in a RS:X windsurfing regatta, at Peñol Lake, in Guataqe, Colombia.

"It was about 16h and we were sailing between two islands, on our way back to the shore after racing, when we were hit by an electric storm. It had been around all afternoon but not that close", explains the Brazilian rider.

"There were three of us out there and I had already told my friends to be careful. Chucho was in front, I was behind him and the third guy was way behind. After a few lighting strikes, a big one got us", he adds.

The first strike hit Chucho, then Santos and two ladies on the beach. The women seem to have suffered more than the sailors. One of them was hit on the feet, and the other one fell to the floor instantly.

When Chucho was hit, he felt tingling in his hands on the book as the current past through him. He was thrown into the water. Mercifully, he was OK and uninjured.

Ricardo Santos was right behind him and was hit with a smaller one. He felt an electric current in his hands stronger than a 220V. Right after, he jumped into the water, to check himself right-away. He wasn't injured.

The strike came through the stitches in the top of the sail. The lighting roots got the sail and spread out/and into the mono film. It burned the top of the mast on two sides.

Finally, it went out through the four corners of the board - two in front and two at the back - burning all four corners before grounding in the water.

All this in less than a second. Too fast, too strong. "I read once, the best thing to do is to get off the water, if there is lightning but actually, that's not true. You should stay on the water and drop your sail", resumes Santos. He now believes that "at least, we're now fully charged and ready to rock".