Southsea woman felt 'threatened' after 'mouthy' jet skiers encircled her while swimming near Southsea Parade Pier

‘MOUTHY’ jet skiers ‘threatened’ an open-water swimmer by riding within metres of her in Southsea.

Thursday, 26th May 2022, 10:29 am

Gail Baird, 63, was in the sea on her own off Southsea beach on Sunday afternoon, when two riders came motoring towards her.

The strategic assistant for Portsmouth In The Community recounted that the pair passed the safety buoys and revved their engines close to her.

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Gail Baird says she was harassed and abused by jetski riders while swimming near South Parade Pier in Southsea. She is pictured with her husband, Dan. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230522-38).

Ms Baird, of Southsea, told The News: ‘It was totally a frightening experience.

‘They encircled me, and I just thought about what I was going to do.

‘It felt a bit like sharks circling me.’

The 5ft 3in swimmer said the ordeal happened at 3.30pm.

Gail Baird says she was harassed and abused by jet ski riders while swimming near South Parade Pier in Southsea. She is pictured with her husband, Dan. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230522-32).

Her husband, Dan Bernard, watched on in disbelief from the beach.

Ms Baird said it ‘alarmed’ everyone who watched from the ‘packed’ beach, as the pair had entered a designated a safety area for swimmers.

She added: ‘I started shouting at them “what are you doing, you’re too close to the beach, get back”.

‘This one guy was giving it large, and shouting “we can go where we want”, and I was screaming at them to get away.

Gail Baird says she was harassed and abused by jet ski riders while swimming near South Parade Pier in Southsea. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230522-31).

‘They were mouthy and verbal.

‘I felt quite threatened, and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience coming across them.’

Reports of the incident were given to the life guards, and the Queen’s Harbour Master.

Ms Baird said she had never experienced anything like it in her 16 years of open-water swimming in Portsmouth.

She added: ‘People should be made aware of where they can go on jet skis.

‘So many people were in the sea having a good time, and you can’t allow jet skis to go near them.

‘You just can’t, otherwise there’s going to be an accident.’

Police say they have received fewer reports of anti-social behaviour by people on water vehicles since introducing Operation Wavebreaker in 2020.

A spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary said they encourage personal watercraft users to act within local regulations.

He added: ‘The majority of personal water craft users act responsibly.

‘However there are occasional reports of dangerous and anti-social use, as indeed there are with other types of vessel.

‘Some locations will have designated swimming areas solely for swimming which are often denoted by shoreline buoys.

‘Areas such as this are not to be used by vessels in order to reduce the risk of collisions between swimmers.’

Deputy Langstone Harbour Master, Rob Dunford, 31, said there are measures in place at Langstone Harbour to ward off irresponsible aquatic vehicle users.

Since the beginning of April, riders need Royal Yachting Association (RYA) personal watercraft certificates to launch from the harbour.

Mr Dunford said: ‘We would encourage anyone experiencing something like that to report it to us.

‘We successfully prosecuted errant jet skiers or water craft users in the past.

‘It has been a nuisance on the whole of the Solent.

‘The majority are well behaved, but there are the ones that everyone sees who ruin the image for everyone else.’

Speaking on behalf of the Queens Harbour Master, a spokeswoman from the Royal Navy said: ‘It is our priority to ensure the safety and security of all those who use it.

‘While there has been no increase in the number of reported dangerous incidents involving Personal Water Craft (jet ski) users, we would urge all to act responsibly.’