Laurent Camprubi, a French skipper, managed to keep his cool while rescuers spent several hours attempting to retrieve him from under the boat. Laurent only managed to survive thanks to a 30cm air pocket.
Salvamento Maritimo, a Spanish sea rescue service, described the rescue as “on the edge of the impossible” in a Facebook post on August 4.
The 62-year-old skipper was rescued on Tuesday after his boat capsized in the middle of the qualifying race for the Route du Rhum.
Laurent was 14 miles from the small archipelago of Sisargas, off the coast of Galicia, when he triggered his distress beacon.
A search was quickly launched and rescuers found his yacht, named the Jeanne Solo Sailor, being tossed about by high waves.
Laurent, from Marseille, was eventually rescued, and said: “I knew they were there and that they would rescue me, that they would not abandon me. It was a matter of time. I had to survive for myself and my family.”
Juan Ferrer, head of operations for the rescue service, stressed that the sailor “was equipped with a special suit that saved him from hypothermia”. But he also praised his “knowledge, which allowed him to wait calmly for our arrival”.
The rescue operation, which involved five divers, started at 8.23pm on Monday, August 1 when the alert was first received.
Juan Ferrer added: “As soon as we received the call from the CCS Finisterre, a special operations technician from the Fene Strategic Base, Vicente Cobelo, with the diving intervention team of the company Ardentia Marine, the company awarded the contract that provides services from the strategic rescue bases, set off”.
Laurent was taken by helicopter to Alvedro airport where an ambulance was waiting.