Surfer rescued after 32 hours at sea says he will never surf again

Auslan Cramb
The moment Matthew Bryce was found by a rescue helicopter - PA

A surfer who was rescued after 32 hours adrift at sea has told his family he will never surf again.

Matthew Bryce, 23, wad found clinging to his board 13 miles from Northern Ireland on Monday night after going surfing on Sunday morning on the of Argyll in Scotland.

Speaking from his hospital bed in Belfast, where he has been treated for hypothermia, he said he had watched the sun set, believing he would not survive another night.

Mr Bryce, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, added that he had “made peace” with himself when a search and rescue helicopter, which had been searching for five hours, finally appeared.

He repeatedly fought back tears as he told BBC News: "I knew I had maybe three hours and I was pretty certain that I was going to die with that sunset.

Matthew Bryce being winched aboard the coastguard rescue helicopter Credit: PA

"So I was watching the sunset and I'd pretty much made peace with it all and then a helicopter flew right over.

"So I jumped off the board and I lifted the board up and I started waving the board in the water and they flew right over, I thought they'd missed me.

"But then they turned round and when I saw them turn it was indescribable. I can't describe it at all.

"These guys were the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I owe them my life."

The interview also revealed Mr Bryce was badly sunburnt as he was swept 16 miles into the Irish Sea by the wind and strong currents.

He added: “It got to the point where my paddling was ineffective, but I was doing it to keep myself warm.

"It was incredibly lonely and quiet because there was just nothing, just waves. I hadn't seen any helicopters.

Matthew Bryce was nearer Northern Ireland than Scotland when he was found Credit: PA

"I was thinking I was going to die, I was almost convinced. I didn't think I would see sunrise."

An RNLI lifeboat has since recovered his surf board but he said he was not planning to use it again.

"I think we'll find a good use for it, maybe as starter fuel,” he said.

Asked if he was finished with surfing, he added: "I think so, I couldn't do that again."

He said he was surfing off Westport on the Kintyre peninsula when he started to be carried out to sea, and described the wind and water as “relentless”.

He later tried to paddle through the night towards a shipping lane after seeing vessels pass in the distance.

After he was found he was winched to safety from the North Channel at about 7.30pm on Monday.

Police Scotland and the coastguard had launched a large-scale search earlier that day, including rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen.

His parents John and Isabella also described their anguish as they waited for news.

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