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‘Extremely lucky’ surfer survives more than 30 hours at sea

The coastguard believe his knowledge and wetsuit saved his life.

A surfer who survived more than 30 hours stranded at sea on his board has been described as “extremely lucky”.

Matthew Bryce, 22, was reported missing by family when he failed to return from a surfing trip off the Argyll coast of Scotland on Sunday afternoon.

He had last been seen at around 9am on Sunday in the St Catherines area, believed to be heading to Westport Beach near Campbeltown.

Police Scotland and the coastguard launched a large-scale search, with rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen involved.

The 22-year-old was eventually found by a search and rescue helicopter at around 7.30pm on Monday, drifting 13 miles from the Argyll coast.

Mr Bryce, from Glasgow, was taken to Belfast Hospital for treatment for hypothermia. The coastguard believe his knowledge and wetsuit saved his life. Conditions in the Irish Sea were also “fairly benign” throughout Monday.

Dawn Petrie, from the Belfast coastguard operations centre, said: “He’d been in the water for some 30 hours when the helicopter was delighted to spot him.

“He was extremely lucky. He was wearing the right equipment, had a very thick neoprene wetsuit on and did the right thing by staying with his surfboard.

“That must have helped him to survive for so long.”

She said Mr Bryce was conscious when he was taken to hospital. Police thanked everyone who had been involved in the search.

Chief Inspector Paul Robertson said: “The response to our appeal to find Matthew has been outstanding. It has been a real team effort and I would like to thank everyone who offered their assistance.”

Alex Smith, from the coastguard, told BBC Radio Scotland: “His core body temperature was certainly very low but he is a very fit young man. It would’ve been quicker for us to find him if he had a personal locator beacon, a flare pack or a radio.

“I understand you don’t want to be encumbered by too much equipment on a surfboard but even just having a shore contact who will raise the alarm if you fail to turn up. This gentleman was already 24 hours late when the alarm was raised.”

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