A STRANDED windsurfer had to be hauled to safety by a lifeboat crew after getting cast adrift in the Forth as Storm Dennis raged.
The dramatic rescue unfolded shortly after 2pm yesterday off Gullane as 45mph winds ripped the sail from the man’s board and dragged him perilously close to rocks.
It later emerged the man, believed to be in his 30s, texted his wife as she watched from the beach with their baby - on a phone she insisted he carry after he had to be rescued before.
“I was watching the group and taking photos of them jumping - the storm was incredible,” said a 41-year-old photographer from Gullane who was on the beach at the time.
“I saw this one guy go off slightly out of control. He went down and we just thought he was in a bit of trouble but we found out later that his whole sail had detached from his board.”
Utterly at the mercy of the raging squall, the surfer was desperately clinging to his sail being dragged closer and closer to the jagged Black Rocks between Gullane Bay and Muirfield.
“By this stage he’d been swept quite quickly in about five minutes and had travelled quite a distance,” added the photographer.
“He was only about 20 metres from the rocks - it was quite worrying. His wife and baby were on the shore watching.”
“He managed to text his wife on the phone she insisted he have because it’s happened before but I don’t think in Gullane.
“He was getting carried along further east in the Forth. I ran over and told her it was going to be ok. She was actually quite calm.”
Hero RNLI rescuers powered through the surf to haul the man to safety and take him to their North Berwick base after his 25-minute ordeal.
Rescuers also retrieved his sail though the board is still thought to be missing - carried away by the storm.
Rescuers later credited the windsurfer for being well-equipped - including wearing drysuit, lifejacket and carrying a GPS beacon.
The RNLI confirmed a volunteer crew from North Berwick Lifeboat was scrambled shortly before 2pm.
“They located the casualty in water,” said a spokeswoman. “They retrieved him from the water and brought him back to safety at North Berwick.
“At the time of the rescue the wind was gusting at over 45mph. North Berwick Coastguard Rescue Team and Fisherrow Coastguard we’re also in attendance on the shore at Gullane.
“The casualty was well equipped with lifejacket, phone and personal location beacon. This all led to a swift and safe rescue.”
Fellow windsurfers reacted to the rescue - and thanked the RNLI crew for their swift action.
Paul Dunn posted on Facebook: “Great job today guys. Don’t know who the guy was but he was out on his own well away from the rest of us and lucky you picked him up. Not a day to be out inexperienced.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible into windsurfing but going out on a day like today needs a lot of skill and experience and if something does go wrong we’re there for each other.
“Hopefully we can meet him at some point and get him out windsurfing with the rest of us - it’s more fun and it’s safer. Great job again. You guys are awesome.”