This Advisory is written following a recent tragedy off Pampelonne Beach near St. Tropez in the south of France, a favourite anchorage for hundreds of yachts during the summer charter season.
A young French woman, Anne Dufourmantelle, a philosopher who advocated risk-taking as being requisite to living fully, interrupted her recreational swim to attempt to reach two children in apparent danger. Before reaching them she was pulled away from them, and although they were soon rescued unharmed, by the time she was reached it was too late.
Rip currents are more commonly associated with the waters off the beaches of Australia, Florida, California and Cornwall, not the south of France, so it brings home to the yachting community the need to be aware of the risks and what to do if you find yourself or othes caught up in one.
In the 14 day period following this incident, rip currents also claimed two lives off south Florida; nine persons in the same area were rescued from its grip, and one more person drowned off the beaches of North Carolina. It is a known, publicised, recurring hazard off those places. But probably none of us ever give it a thought when our yacht’s guests are cavorting in the sea off the famous clubs and restaurants that line Pampelonne Beach.
A rip current is not something that most of the yachts anchored here would anticipate.
If we learn a lesson in risk awareness from this episode, it would be a living tribute to a selfless woman’s last act of risk-taking.
For further information and advice on surviving a rip current here are some useful resources:
Video: How to Survive a Rip Current