Surfer rescued from sea after 30 hours 'certain I was going to die'

Undated handout photo issued by South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust of surfer Matthew Bryce, from Glasgow with (left to right) Consultant Dr Padraig Headley, Staff Nurse Aaron Sturdy, Staff Nurse Laura Button, Sister Rhonda Marks and Staff Nurse Julie Hunter at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, where he is recovering after more than 30 hours stranded at sea.
Undated handout photo issued by South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust of surfer Matthew Bryce, from Glasgow with (left to right) Consultant Dr Padraig Headley, Staff Nurse Aaron Sturdy, Staff Nurse Laura Button, Sister Rhonda Marks and Staff Nurse Julie Hunter at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, where he is recovering after more than 30 hours stranded at sea.

A surfer rescued after more than 30 hours stranded at sea thought he was going to die just moments before he was found by a helicopter.

Speaking from his hospital bed in Belfast as he recovers from hypothermia, Matthew Bryce vowed he will never surf again.

Matthew Bryce

Matthew Bryce

He was reported missing by family when he failed to return from a Sunday morning surf off the Argyll coast of Scotland.

He was eventually found by a search and rescue helicopter at around 7.30pm on Monday, drifting in the North Channel, 13 miles from Northern Ireland and 16 miles from Scottish shores.

As the sun began to set on a second night at sea, Mr Bryce thought he had just hours to live and had "made peace" with himself.

The 22-year-old, from Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, 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.

Video grab taken from BBC News of rescued surfer Matthew Bryce, who thought he was going to die just moments before he was found by a helicopter.

Video grab taken from BBC News of rescued surfer Matthew Bryce, who thought he was going to die just moments before he was found by a helicopter.

"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.

"Then they turned round... and then they saved my life. I can't thank them enough."

The interview showed Mr Bryce was also badly sunburnt during his ordeal.

He said he was helpless on Sunday as changing currents and strong winds pushed him further and further from the shore.

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

Fear really set in as night fell on Sunday.

He added: "It was incredibly lonely and quiet because there was just nothing - just waves.

"I hadn't seen any helicopters.

"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 the 22-year-old is not planning to take it back to sea.

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

Asked by the BBC if he is finished with surfing, Mr Bryce said: "I think so, I couldn't do that again."