[PHOTO: Phil Micheu]

THREE kitesurfers had to be rescued during a charity event.

Strong winds caused competitors to run into difficulties at the Pro Kitesurfing School’s first Charity Downwinder off Pensarn on Saturday.

Rhyl lifeboat launched just before 4pm after noticing that one kitesurfer had become detached from his board and was drifting in the water. He was taken on board the lifeboat together with all his lines and kite. Another two kitesurfers, who were spotted lying in the water, were also rescued.

Speaking to the Journal, prior to the event, Simon Jones – owner and founder of the UK’s first Olympic Kitesurfing school in Rhyl and organiser of the event – said that kitesurfing had been “recognised as the safest watersport”.

The Downwinder was a fundraiser for the Rhyl RNLI station – which neighbours the Pro Kitesurfing Olympic School in Kinmel Bay – and was planned to be the largest gathering of kitesurfers in Wales.

Posting on Facebook, Mr Jones said: “Our intention was only to travel eight miles. With the wind direction we all got carried away with our excitement for this amazing sport and getting up close and personal with the wind turbines.

“The RNLI team in Rhyl were simply incredible we have so much respect for what you guys do.”

A Rhyl RNLI spokesman said: “The kitesurfer going towards Llandudno was eventually spotted by Rhyl coastguard volunteers, as he made landfall at Towyn and he was monitored as he walked back on the beach towards Rhyl. Eventually all kitesurfers were accounted for... no medical assistance being required.”

It is understood that Mr Jones had prepared safety precautions, stipulating that the event was only open to qualified kitesurfers with a IKO or a BKSA level three qualification or above.