HENGISTBURY Head National Coastwatch Institution are appealing for windsurfers and kite surfers to be vigilant and stay safe in the water after a spike in the number of recorded incidents.

The Hengistbury Head Watchkeepers have released that they have been involved 10 incidents so far this year, five of which involved wind or kite surfers and three of those involved the RNLI.

The other five related to a kayaker, a swimmer, a dog, a member of the public and a motorboat.

This compares to a total of 54 incidents recorded in the whole of last year. Eight of those related to wind or kite surfers with five involved the intervention of the RNLI.

In a post put of the Hengistbury Head NCI Facebook page, they said: “From the Lookout at the top of Hengistbury Head, we watch, monitor and log all surfers in our Watch area, especially those using the waters off Avon beach directly to our east and Southbourne beach to our west.

“It is part of our duty as NCI Watchkeepers to log all 'vulnerables' within, or passing through, our Watch area.

“Surfers, including wind and kite surfers, fall into this category as do swimmers, kayakers, canoeists, paddleboarders, jet skis, small watercraft, single-handed sailors, if we deem it necessary due to weather conditions etc.”

The UK has been hit by four major storms so far this year including, most recently, Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.

Although these storms produce favourable conditions for wind and kite surfers, the unpredictability of gusts and big swells during experienced during storms can not only be dangerous for leisure users, but for rescue teams called out if an incident was to occur.

In the same Facebook post, the Hengistbury Head NCI said: “We believe that the vast majority of our local surfing community are very knowledgeable and experienced, properly equipped, and fully aware of the local sea state and weather conditions when they go out.

“We also know that they very much appreciate our presence keeping watch over them and are hugely grateful to the RNLI, as we all are, for being there should they run into difficulty.”