A FATHER and son have been hailed as heroes for saving the lives of four men in a dramatic sea rescue.
Martin Todd and his son Shane rescued four fishermen whose boat capsized when it was hit by a freak wave.
The boat was catapulted 6ft into the air, hurling the four men into the Solent.
Martin, 56, and Shane, who were also out fishing off the coast of Hayling Island, rushed to their aid in their 22ft boat Be Lucky and dragged them to safety.
It was a race against time and tide as one of the men was not a strong swimmer and none was wearing life jackets.
Martin, a retired builder, of Kingsclere Avenue, Leigh Park, said: ‘We were coming into the bay. My son said to me, “stop, turn round, they’ve gone over”.
‘I looked round and I could see one chap on the top of the underside of the boat. The other three were in the water. One couldn’t swim.
‘I was driving the boat – if my son hadn’t seen them I hate to think what could have happened because there was no-one else around.
‘We were two miles out in the Solent. I span the boat around to get back to them. I couldn’t get too close because of the propeller. I had to keep turning it off.
‘It was a matter of trying to get as close as you could so we could pull them over one at a time.
‘Their clothes were ripped but they weren’t seriously hurt.
‘The look on the face of the man who couldn’t swim was panic-stricken. It was an awful thing to see.’
Shane, 30, said: ‘We had a hell of a job getting to them because of the current, but we managed to get all four into my father’s boat and take them back to the marina at Hayling Island.
‘He was very professional in the way he did it.’
Solent Coastguard received a call-out at 2.55pm on Sunday.
Spokesman Fred Caygill said: ‘They were picked up out of the water and brought back.
‘There was no need for us to go out.’
He added: ‘The coastguard is always very grateful for any assistance given by other boat users. Obviously we praise their efforts.’
The rescued fishermen, from Newbury, thanked the Todds, and particularly the swift actions of Martin.
One of the fishermen, a 59-year-old man who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I phoned him to thank him for what he did. He’s a hero. He was brilliant. He did what any self-respecting boater would do when he sees other boaters in trouble.’
But Martin said he did not feel like a hero and just reacted with his instinct.
He said: ‘It’s just something you do – it’s just one of those things.’