Onlookers at Cape Byron raised the alarm about 8am and a jet ski from the Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club was sent to rescue the man.
The jet ski brought the surfer back to Tallow Beach where ambulance officers attended the patient – 33-year-old Kevin Stickle.
A surfer for seven years, Kevin and three mates had been surfing at Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach from about 5.30am.
They were catching some great waves, but there was a strong southerly wind blowing and a strong swell.
“I had been out there for a few hours and was surfing right in the corner and the swell was very strong,” Kevin said.
“It just sucked me out and took me right around and under the lighthouse.
“I realised I was out way too far, so I started yelling to some guys who could I see up at the lighthouse.
“Luckily they heard me and they called for help.”
With only a pair of boardshorts on, Kevin said he tried to stay calm, but was very cold.
“I was also trying to stay away from the rocks as I knew I would really be in trouble if I drifted into them,” Kevin said.
“I was out there for about 45 minutes and physically I was getting pretty tired, so I was very happy when I saw the jet ski turn up.”
Married with four children, Kevin said that thoughts of his family and thoughts about sharks kept going through his mind.
Safely back on land and with his teeth chattering with cold and his lips turning blue, Kevin said he had tried to remain calm during the ordeal.
Kevin said the experience had been ‘humbling’.
“I live here and know the surf. It just shows you how quickly things can turn,” he said.
Kevin thanked all those involved for rescuing him.
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