A young Scottish surfer is recovering in hospital having survived 32 hours alone in the cold Irish sea, according to the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Matthew Bryce, 22, from Glasgow, had not been seen since he left to go surfing off the northwest coast of Scotland on Sunday morning.
He went into the water shortly before noon and was adrift until a rescue helicopter run by the Belfast coastguard found him clinging to his surfboard 13 miles off the Scottish coast on Monday evening.
Relatives alerted the authorities that he was missing on Monday lunchtime after he failed to turn up for an appointment with a friend on Sunday evening, rescue services said. The search operation took seven hours.
“Hope was fading of finding the surfer safe and well after such a long period in the water and with nightfall approaching we were gravely concerned,” said Dawn Petrie at Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre who co-ordinated the search.
She said Bryce was suffering from hypothermia but was otherwise conscious.
“He had a thick wetsuit on with a hood and boots and he stuck with the surfboard. All those things helped him to survive,” Alex Smith,Maritime Operations Controller with the Belfast coastguard.
Smith said Bryce drifted out so far because of the strong tide that runs up into the Atlantic Ocean. There was also a strong breeze on Sunday and Monday, he said.
After he was plucked from the sea Bryce was flown to a hospital in Belfast where he is now recovering from his ordeal.