Windsurfer Lorenzo Cubeddu may have been on the water along the west coast for up to eight hours before he managed to come ashore in Co Clare.
Lorenzo, who lives near Ballybunion, set off at about 2pm on Sunday and was last seen at 4pm , but it was only reported at 11pm that he had come ashore 25 nautical miles away in Kilkee.
He was still recovering in University Hospital Limerick last night but may be discharged today, with some of those involved in the search for him admitting they expected to find him in the water, if at all.
Lorenzo works in SuperValu in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, and is an experienced windsurfer. It is believed his depth of experience is what managed to help him navigate his way along the coast once he got into difficulty and then wend his way across the Shannon Estuary to safety.
The exact details of where he came ashore were still uncertain yesterday but it is understood he identified himself to someone near Corless Point in Querrin near Kilkee. In the preceding hours, lifeboats from Fenit and Kilrush RNLI, as well as the Irish naval vessel the LE Niamh and Rescue Helicopter 115, were involved in a search for him, co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard.
Charlie Glynn, the helmsman with Kilrush Lifeboat, said yesterday that the swells off Ballybunion on Sunday were up to 3m-4m. The RNLI said winds were blowing Force 6 to 7, while darkness also complicated the search effort.
Describing the “pretty difficult conditions” he added: “We were really looking for an individual who was in the water. “It’s absolutely amazing that he made it into Kilkee relatively unharmed.”
Liam Mulvihill of Ballybunion Surf School, who knows Lorenzo, said: “We are all delighted. He is one of those really nice guys, genuine and happy.
“We were all shocked when we heard it [that he had gone missing]. We expected the worst.”
Lorenzo is described as an avid windsurfer and a spokesperson for Fenit Lifeboat said it is “utterly amazing” the had managed to navigate the Atlantic waters for so long, possibly standing on the board for much of the time.
Mr Glynn told RTÉ the fact friends and family raised the alarm highlighted the importance of those going out on the water telling others when they were due back. Mr Cubeddu also appears to have had sufficient protective gear to endure the many hours on the water and Mr Glynn also said another vital piece of gear for those taking to the seas is a personal location beacon.
“He stayed with his board and managed somehow to travel the long distance to shore.”