Intrepid TV adventurer, Bear Grylls, joined volunteer lifeboat crew members from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution at a special demonstration and fitting finale to the annual Cowes Week regatta on the Isle of Wight.
Daredevil Bear, famed for his exploits in some of the most inhospitable deserts, jungles and mountains around the world, was happy to play the part of a distressed mariner during the rescue demonstration.
Bear, who was at Cowes Week to meet sponsors ahead of his latest project to sail through the Arctic, was delighted to get involved in the display, which involved him being winched to safety by a Coastguard helicopter.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution organised the demonstration in conjunction with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to illustrate how the two work together in providing a search and rescue service. Calshot RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was involved, as was Cowes RNLI lifeboat.
Speaking moments after the demonstration, Bear said he was delighted to take part in what was an exciting and important display of the work of the charity that saves lives at sea:
‘The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is one of the leading rescue organisations worldwide, and their bravery, initiative and dedication saves many, many lives every year. For me it is always a pleasure to work with them and I love their gutsy spirit.’
The demonstration was preceded by a flypast of the Red Arrows team. Bear’s Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) then released orange distress smoke, which was the signal for Solent Coastguard’s Rescue 104 helicopter to swoop into action. A winchman was lowered onto the RIB and then winched Bear Grylls off the “distressed” vessel before lowering him onto the save haven of Calshot lifeboat. Two other participants then staged a fall overboard from the RIB and were rescued by the volunteer crew of Cowes RNLI lifeboat.The demonstration culminated in both lifeboats and the Rescue 104 helicopter doing a final pass by the crowd that had gathered to watch.
Andrew Ashton, RNLI Divisional Inspector, was responsible for arranging the demonstration, as the RNLI is the official chosen charity of the 2009 Cowes Week regatta. He said:
‘Cowes Week is one of the busiest and most popular events on the sailing calendar and there was a fantastic crowd watching the demonstration. Our volunteer lifeboat crews spend a great deal of time training and conducting real life rescues, but often it goes unseen by anyone other than those being rescued.
‘This demonstration allowed our crews to show the public what they do, and how we work with the Coastguard to fulfil our fundamental aim of saving lives at sea. The RNLI was very happy to have, in Bear Grylls, such a much-loved and respected adventurer involved in the demonstration. As someone who is no stranger to danger, I’m glad he enjoyed his involvement in what was an excellent reflection of the RNLI’s work.’
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