Dorset coast kayak race 'could have been tragedy'

A kayaker had to be airlifted to hospital and several others were feared missing after taking part in a race off the Dorset coast.

Portland Coastguard said it had not been informed of the event involving 40 kayaks from Weymouth to Lulworth.

Several kayakers got into difficulties during the race off Durdle Door.

Some were reported missing, prompting a two-hour search involving two coastguard teams, two RNLI lifeboats and the helicopter.

A coastguard spokesperson said: "We spent two hours trying to ascertain if people were missing or not.

"All due to the fact that whoever organised this event did not see fit to inform us."

'Bad planning'

The man rescued was spotted by a member of the public clinging to his vessel in the water.

He was picked up by the safety vessel from the Army's Lulworth Firing Range and then flown to hospital suffering hypothermia.

The coastguard added: "The swell was bad, the wind was high and it was not the place to be in a kayak.

"It was really bad planning - there could have been a tragedy."

Another of the kayakers taking part in the race also overshot the finish at Lulworth Cove and drifted into the Army's firing range training area.

Firings had to be suspended while he was towed back into a safe area.

The coastguard has urged anyone organising any race of any sort to inform them beforehand.

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