Res­cue drama surfer can’t re­sist lure of the waves...

Evening Times - - NEWS - By TOM TORRANCE

A SURFER who was res­cued af­ter spend­ing more than 30 hours cling­ing to his board at sea is rid­ing waves again -- just months af­ter swear­ing off the sport.

Matthew Bryce, 24, was dra­mat­i­cally winched to safety by a he­li­copter in May this year fol­low­ing an ex­haus­tive search by the po­lice and coast­guard.

The in­ci­dent led the 24-year-old from Air­drie, North La­nark­shire, to swear off of the sport en­tirely as he suf­fered from hy­pother­mia and de­hy­dra­tion.

He had been pulled off course by stronger than ex­pected winds and the tide which pulled him 16 miles away from his start point at West­port beach in Kin­tyre.

But now he is re­gain­ing his con­fi­dence for the sport he loves with the as­sis­tance of those at Surf Snow­do­nia, North Wales -- a fa­cil­ity which makes man-made waves.

Matthew in­sists that he was seri- ous that he wanted to quit surf­ing for good fol­low­ing his 32 hours at sea – but is now get­ting back on his board. He said: “When I was say­ing at the time that I wasn’t go­ing to be surf­ing again it was true. I be­lieved it.”

On Sun­day April 30, Matthew was re­ported miss­ing by his fam­ily when he failed to re­turn from a surf­ing trip off the Ar­gyll coast of Scot­land.

Po­lice launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance in ad­di­tion to a large-scale search, with res­cue teams from Camp­bel­town, Southend, Gigha, Tar­bert and Port Ellen all in­volved.

He was even­tu­ally found by a search and res­cue he­li­copter 13 miles off the coast of North­ern Ire­land at around 7.30pm on May 1.

In just over a week, he made a full re­cov­ery at Ul­ster Hos­pi­tal in Belfast.

But months later, Matthew is back on his surf­board and train­ing at Surf Snow­do­nia in Wales.

He said: “It was nice. It’s very dif­fer­ent than the sea. You do need to turn and stay within the sec­tion that keeps the power.

“You can’t just go where you want. You need to stay where you are. But it was nice to do the lit­tle turns and kicks and stuff.”

Staff at Snow­do­nia sent Matthew an open in­vi­ta­tion to see if he could be tempted back into the wa­ter.

He added: “I’ve never felt lev­els of cold like that. It’s bone grind­ing. It be­came bone grind­ing.

“So they [Snow­do­nia] then thought, you know, ‘come down here, we can get you back in the wa­ter, it’s some­where safe, it’s not in the sea. Come and surf here and we’ll get you back to it.’ “So it was a re­ally nice ges­ture. “The first wave that I ac­tu­ally caught was nice. I en­joy it too much. I just can’t stop.

“So this was a good step­ping stone to ac­tu­ally go­ing back to the sea.

“I think I’ll be go­ing back to the sea soon.”

Matthew Bryce re­turns to the waves af­ter an epic 30 hour or­deal at sea ear­lier this year. Be­low, how the Evening Times re­ported the nail-bit­ing res­cue in May

Matthew re­cov­ers thanks to staff at Ul­ster Hos­pi­tal in Belfast, and right, the dra­matic mo­ment he was saved

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