A brief interview with Jan Lisewski, Polish kitesurfer gone missing during his attempt to cross the Red Sea from El Gouna to Duba, alone and without any backup. Jan was interviewed shortly after he was rescued drifting 60 kms from the coast of Saudi Arabia.
By Polish Press Agency. PAP.
You’ve left El Gouna on Friday morning with intention of covering a distance of 200 km and reaching Duba in Saudi Arabia. What had happened, that you send a SOS signal on 5 pm?
I’ve waited for a week in El Gouna near Hurghada for good conditions, for good wind. Such a forecast, for all day, was for 2nd of March. I started in wind of 4 in Bft scale, which has later reach 5 Bft. When there was around 60 km till destination, the wind has suddenly died, just like fire blown from a match. There was no wind, the kite collapsed. After 1,5 hours nothing indicated that the wind will come back. Waves have, however, started to build up. Sun was setting down, so I called SOS. After about 3 hours I called it again.
How did you spend the first night?
In comparison to the second night, this one was peaceful, even though I didn’t think I would it in extreme conditions on the Red Sea. I’ve run out of beverage and I’ve had two liters of energy drink and water with glucose. I’ve earlier eaten two high caloric snack bars, so I had to keep a fast. I’ve drained a little air from tubes and made a raft with my board. During the night, the wind was back. I’ve drifted in the coast direction, but when the wind direction shifter, I was pushed back to the sea. It was like this all over again – one step forward, two steps back. In one moment I was about 30-40 km from shore. When I’ve seen fisherman’s boats I’ve fired a rocket, but they must’ve not seen it, as they didn’t react.
Then the second night…
At first I’ll say that I owe surviving it to my brother Piotr, who forced me to take a knife. Maybe he had some kind of premonition. I was pushed by the wind to the worst place, a reef, where sharks have been preying. They were about 2,5 to 6 meters. They attacked me through my kite, which must’ve also attracted them because of its colour. I stabbed them in the eyes, nose and gills. The fight, which I’ve miraculously survived, took whole night. By the morning, they were gone. There were eleven of them. On Sunday another species have been looking for me. These sharks have circled near my already frayed raft, but they didn’t attack.
Did you have any hope after the second night, that you’ll be found before getting eaten by sharks?
Of course, because hope dies last. It built up in me on Saturday afternoon, when a helicopter flew above me. I was sure that the crew had seen me, because they were waving. I responded, but that was all of our contact. It was similar with a boat. I thought, that it would nearly ram me. Not even close though. Maybe when the sun was shining, in big waves, I couldn’t be seen. In the end I’ve been collected by a military boat, with I think 6 people crew.
You are after tests in hospital in Duba. What are the results?
To doctors’ surprise very good and there has been a lot of tests. My arrival has caused a lot of confusion, but personnel is great. I would like to thank our consul Igor Kaczmarczyk, who has organized everything here, from the morning when he had arrived, and all the people who have been involved in the rescue action. I’ve already drunk several liters of water and juice for their health.