Sailors have told of their struggle to rescue a naked man who fought off relatives to run headlong into the sea at Gosport.
Police and coastguard were scrambled at 9.45am yesterday after a 24-year-old man from the town was sighted struggling off Stokes Bay.
Leigh McMullan and Chris Rashley were training in the bay with their Olympic sailing coach Derek Clark when they saw the man run into the sea.
Mr Clark, 63, said: ‘Leigh jumped into the changing rooms and said “we’ve got a situation out here”. We very quickly launched the Rib and tried to help the chap out.’
Mr McMullan, 34, said: ‘We thought the best thing to do would be to get in the boat and get out there.’
The Olympic-hopeful sailors, who are members of Stokes Bay Sailing Club, took the rigid inflatable boat (Rib) out to the man, who had swum a quarter of a mile off the coast completely naked.
They managed to get him into the boat, and put some clothes on him but he refused to return to the shore.
Mr McMullan said: ‘We tried to encourage him back into the boat but he wasn’t interested in coming with us.
‘He didn’t want to go ashore, whenever we tried to come ashore he kept trying to get back into the water.’
According to Mr Clark, the man wanted to get to a yacht further out to sea.
‘He was clearly on a mission,’ he said.
‘So we slowly motored out towards the yacht and had a chat with the people on the boat, but they didn’t know him.’
Mr Rashley, 25, said: ‘Four people were trying to stop him (from going into the sea) and then he went in anyway. And then he decided he wanted to swim out and see the yachts.’
Once the man realised the sailors were attempting to return him to the coast, he jumped back into the sea.
He was eventually rescued by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue team with a police officer on board who had to get into the water and pull him out.
The coastguard said that before the man dashed into the ocean, his girlfriend and mother had tried to stop him.
Christopher Harrison, 25, who owns a restaurant that overlooks the bay, saw the man’s struggle to get into the water.
Mr Harrison, from Fareham, said: ‘He was shouting “get off me, let me do it.” After a 10-minute struggle he managed to fight them off and ran into the sea. His family looked really concerned.’
The man, who has not been named by authorities, was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham by ambulance but did not appear injured.
* Gafirs were called to help police search for a missing man in Stokes Bay at 9.30pm last night – he was found safe onshore.