The Spanish coastguard said a 62-year-old French sailor was rescued in the Atlantic Ocean off Spain after surviving for 16 hours in microscopic air bubbles under his capsized sailboat. Laurent Camprubi fires flares after his boat, Jeanne Solo Sailor, crashed around 8:30 p.m. Monday as it was 14 miles (22 km) from the Sisargas Islands off Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, Coast Guard said in a statement. .
A lifeboat and three helicopters were immediately dispatched and the search team found the overturned boat in the dark.
A diver was lowered into the hull and smashed into it, looking for signs of life. Camprubi starts knocking on the door from the inside and calls for help.
But due to rough seas, rescuers then had to work “crazy” to prevent the boat from sinking before reaching the French sailor in distress.
They attached buoys to the hull, and the next day, two divers armed with torches swam under the boat and saw Camprubi, who was wearing a synthetic plastic survival suit. The divers extended a pole to Camprubi and immediately grabbed it.
“A face appeared with eyes open,” the coastguard statement said. “He lunged towards us…we pulled him to the surface.”
Once on the surface, Camprubi – an experienced sailor who has won several victories – was taken by helicopter to the hospital for examination. He escaped uninjured.
“I know that they are there and they will rescue me, that they will not abandon me. It is a matter of time, I must survive for me and my family,” Camprubi was quoted as saying in the statement.
The Coast Guard said Camprubi was rescued around noon on Tuesday, so he spent 16 hours under the boat with “only 30 centimeters (12 inches) of air”. It described the rescue operation as “on the verge of the impossible”.
Juan Ferrer, head of rescue operations for the Spanish coastguard, said the neoprene suit Camprubi was wearing kept him from hypothermia.
He also commended the French sailor for “calmly awaiting our arrival”.
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