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UPDATE: Huge rescue mission sparked after D-Day kayaks abandoned in bad weather
A KAYAKER has spoken out over a mix-up which sparked a massive rescue mission off Portland on Sunday.
A member of a group kayaking from Portland to France to raise money for charity and commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day said bad weather forced them to abandon their kayaks in waters off Portland.
The two empty kayaks sparked a large search mission spearheaded by Portland Coastguard, which included the rescue helicopter, Solent helicopter, Weymouth lifeboat and a local boat, as they feared people could be in the water.
It eventually emerged the vessels had been left by the Normandy Klepper Challenge team.
The coastguard confirmed the kayakers had informed authorities but the message wasn’t passed on.
Richard Bentley, one of the rowers involved in the charity challenge, said they would be making a donation towards the cost of the false alarm mission.
He said: “The water got rougher and rougher and it took us five attempts to get one canoe onto the support vessel.
"We tried to get another one on too but then that canoe was sucked away into the sea and when we looked starboard the waves had already thrown two of the guys out of the other boat, so we had no chance.
“We contacted the coastguard on Thursday morning to say there were two canoes lost and if anybody saw them to let us know, but I believe it was someone from the public who then called them later on.
“We did get an email from the coastguard on Sunday to say that they’d found the canoes and they were waiting to be collected.”
“We have decided to give some money to the RNLI as well as the other charities. It probably won’t pay for the whole cost of the callout but hopefully it will help.”
He added the challenge will be re-launched as soon as possible in honour of D-Day.
“We are just waiting for everybody’s availability and we’ll hopefully have that soon. Then we’ll be waiting for a ten day window of good weather to set off in.”
A spokesman for the coastguard said: “We didn’t know the kayaks were being left over by the D-Day kayakers.
“They had been left on Thursday night.
“It would appear they had informed someone but this didn’t filter down to the ops room and we weren’t aware until after.”
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