Blown away: windsurfer takes a 140-mile detour

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The Independent Online

When hobby windsurfer Adam Cowles trudged ashore after a stint on the waves he was in need of a stiff drink - and not just because he had spent three hours riding the waves.

After consulting a couple on the beach Mr Cowles, 24, realised that he had taken a wrong turn and having set out in Swansea Bay was now in Devon - 140 miles away from home.

His unplanned journey began when he sailed too far out into the Bristol Channel. When he spotted cargo shipping he realised he was seriously off course but decided to head on over to Devon. Locals at Woody Bay, near Lynton, north Devon, was bemused when he walked out of the sea and asked "where am I?".

His wife Sarah then had to drive the 140 miles to Devon to pick him up.

Talking to the South Wales Evening Post, Mr Cowles said it was only after realising that the city had shrunk to a speck on the horizon that he decided to forge ahead.

"I knew something was not quite right when I noticed it was just a speck in the far distance. I then went past a cargo ship," he said."I turned around and realised that I had gone too far. It was at that point I had a moment of inspiration. I just thought I would carry on and head towards Devon.

"It was a clear day and I could see the coast so I just went for it. It was quite scary because I knew that the water temperature was very cold. If I fell in I would be in serious trouble."

After sailing across the Bristol Channel for three hours he arrived in Devon at 5.30pm. A couple took a triumphant Mr Cowles to the local pub for a drink.

He said: "Even though I did not have any money, a couple took me off to a pub and bought me some beer.

"There I was sitting in a pub, completely soaking and in my wetsuit, but no-one batted an eye-lid."

He said that one of the scariest aspects of the day was having to call his wife and ask her for a lift home. "I was worried at how she was going to react when I told her where I was and whether she could come and pick me up. It was a 280-mile round trip."

Swansea coastguards warned his unplanned exploit could have proved fatal. Freezing water and simply a lack of wind power could have left him stranded in the Bristol Channel.