Mandurah: kite surfer Aaron takes shelter from the storm

LOST kite surfer Aaron, who wanted his surname withheld, has described sheltering in sand dunes as lightning struck the beach in an electrical storm near Mandurah last night.

“Only made a few hundred meters progress when lightning began to strike the ground, lots of strikes really close and I knew I’d be toast if I kept upright, so back to a hollow in the dunes,” he told social media site Perth Kitesurfing Gang.

Aaron and a companion kiter were delayed before they started a downwind trip close to shore from Madora to Secret Harbour about 5.30pm.

“The wind was good for my 7m kite for the first bit, but then reduced and then completely died suddenly, but I was already basically on the beach and pulled in a tangled kite and lines,” he said.

No wind stopped him relaunching the kite, and there was what he described as the “pretty ominous storm cell” directly overhead, so he packed his gear and started a 3km walk in heavy rain and more lightning strikes.

“I made it to Golden Bay and started to feel pretty exposed as the tallest thing in what had become an intense lightning storm,” Aaron said

He found a hollow in the sand dunes, waited for 30 minutes, but had to return when the strikes restarted after an apparent lull.

“I ventured inland further to find houses or some man-made shelter, but there seemed to be only more dunes,” he said.

As he took shelter a second time, others were organising a search after his companion kiter made it earlier to Secret Harbour, before the storm struck hard.

“It was after 8pm when I was able to start finally walking back along the beach, and there as still lots of lightning, but the strikes were hitting the water out to sea and lightning overhead was in the clouds,” Aaron said.

The search was called off after he arrived at Secret Harbour about 9.30pm,

He said he had learnt to always check weather forecasts “carefully” and have a mobile phone on a waterproof pouch.