Waiheke Police Sergeant Raymond Matthews says the sailor moored his boat overnight somewhere near Sandy Bay, in very challenging weather. The vessel slipped its mooring in the rough seas and was dashed against the rocks.

The sailor may well have gone down with his boat if it wasn’t for the quick response of local surfer Stephen Burn.

“It was a very heroic action, he went out on his long board… scooped him up out of the water and brought him to shore.”

Stephen says it was his neighbours who acted first. They saw the boat break up and began scanning the waves below their house with flashlights, trying to find anyone in the water.

Meanwhile, Stephen raced down to Hekerua Bay, just east of Sandy Bay, where he keeps a paddle board.

“It was matchwood… so I was paddling around [the bay] when I spotted him,” Stephen says. “He was floating with a black container half filled with water under one arm, held in a death grip. [In the other arm] he had a satchel with all his things and a passport.”

Stephen managed to haul the man and his satchel onto the board and they started paddling it in together. • Paul Mitchell

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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