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Lifeboats rescue world record attempt rower
     
       
   

A WORLD record attempt rower had to be rescued by local RNLI lifeboats after he got into difficulties in strong winds four miles north of Withernsea.

Andy Hodgson who is rowing around Britain was tossed by the wind and relentless swell off the Withernsea shoreline in pitch black and called for assistance just before 4.30am, last Saturday, October 6.

Withernsea’s RNLI lifeboat and the Humber Lifeboat at Spurn were called at 4.26am to rescue the rower.

Withernsea’s inshore lifeboat, Henley Eight, launched into unforgiving sea conditions with a crew of four on board whilst Humber’s all weather RNLI lifeboat ‘Pride of the Humber’ was also on its way from Spurn Point.

Forty-five minutes after launching Withernsea’s volunteer RNLI crew located the rowing boat 45 battling through strong winds and relentless sea swells made worse by the dark October night.

Withernsea RNLI spokesperson and volunteer helmsman Matthew Woodhouse said: “After speaking to the lone rower it became apparent that under the rules of his world record attempt, neither lifeboat could give any assistance without ending his world record attempt. “After 148 days alone at sea and with less than 150 miles to go to his finish line, Andy Hodgson was desperate to overcome the situation without help. The decision was taken that both the Withernsea and Humber lifeboats would escort his boat, Spirit of Ahab, further out to sea in a hope the calmer waters would offer rest for the tired rower.”

However, two hours later, against a strong tide and relentless waves, limited progress had being made. Drifting close to shore and with much worse weather forecasted to arrive shortly and after a discussion with both lifeboats, Andy made the heavy decision to accept a tow to the nearest place of safety, which was Spurn Point.

It was however, 14 miles away, so Withernsea’s volunteers attached a tow from Humber Lifeboat to the ‘Spirit of Ahab’ as all three vessels rolled around in the building swells.

“Due to the poor conditions, Andy was taken aboard Withernsea Lifeboat before being transferred to Humber Lifeboat, this manoeuvre took three attempts due to the poor sea conditions. The Humber lifeboat then began the three-hour tow back to Spurn Point, as Withernsea Lifeboat returned back to station shortly before 8.30am,” said Matthew.

Volunteer RNLI Helmsman, Antony Binns said: “Conditions were very poor that morning. We had to take the most experienced crew available, so we could draw on every bit of knowledge to perform this service safely. The sea conditions, along with the darkness and heavy rain made the visibility very poor. One of the crew who has nearly 25 years experience said it was the worst conditions he had experienced on a call out.”

Matthew added: “We could see how tough a decision it was for Andy to accept assistance. He had come so far, survived so much already and was devastatingly close to his finish line. He made the right decision to accept help as the sea conditions and weather worsened shortly after, we could be talking about a different outcome if he hadn’t made his decision when he did.”

 
         
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