French sailor Laurent Camprubi survives 16 hours under a capsized boat in the Atlantic Ocean


A French sailor trapped under a capsized sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean used an air bubble to stay alive until rescued 16 hours later, Spanish coastguard officials say.

The sailor, who was identified by Spanish media as Laurent Camprubi, sent a distress signal on Monday when his sailboat, the Jeanne SOLO Sailor, capsized 14 miles from the coast of the Spanish Sisargas Islands.

A dramatic video of recovery shows a Spanish search and rescue diver knocking on the bottom of the boat, listening for signs of life. After being rescued on Tuesday, Camprubi, 62, said he was able to survive thanks to an air bubble, according to the Spanish Coast Guard and media reports.

The sailor said he was shocked when he realized the extent of the damage to his boat – a broken mast, a destroyed boom, a keel and most of the equipment missing.

“I couldn’t understand how I was able to survive,” Camprubi, from Marseille, told Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia. “The conditions were very unfavorable.”

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Camprubi set sail on Sunday aboard its 40ft vessel from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, according to Reuters. He was taking part in a qualifying race for the next transatlantic solo sailing competition Route du Rhum, which takes place every four years.

He had arrived in Fisterra in the west on Monday Spain, where he encountered high winds and three-metre waves, and soon realized that his boat had lost its keel, a beam that goes down amidships, he said in the interview with La Voz de Galicia.

“I was trying to pull in the mainsail when the boat started to heel over,” he told the newspaper. “So without thinking too much about it, I went inside, and within 15 seconds the boat had capsized.”

In a rescue mission that has been described as “at the edge of the impossiblethe rescue teams battled through the choppy seas. Vicente Cobelo, member of the Coast Guard Special Operations Team, told laSexta TV channel that when the lifeguard knocked on the boat Monday night to see if there were any survivors, he got a response.

“We knew then there was someone down there,” he said.

But the waters were too rough to attempt a rescue. The team therefore had to wait until the next morning to try again.

As Camprubi waited for help, he said he used the air bubble to breathe and tried not to panic. He said The Voice of Galicia It was the thought of never seeing his wife and children again that helped him survive the ordeal.

He added that the air bubble was about 27 inches long Monday but dropped significantly overnight. On Tuesday the water filled up and he knew he was running out of time. But he remained calm, he said.

“I never panicked,” he told La Voz de Galicia. “I tried to see reality and find solutions. I was afraid of not seeing my children again.

On Tuesday, two divers swam under the boat to free the sailor, who was wearing a survival suit and was knee-deep in water, coast guard officials said.

Cobelo, the Coastguard member, told reporters that when divers approached the boat, the sailor jumped into the freezing water and swam under the boat to reach the surface.

“On his own initiative he got into the water and snorkeled, helped by the divers who had to pull him because it was difficult for him to get out in his survival suit,” Cobelo told the TV station. laSexta.

Just after noon on Tuesday, rescue teams could be seen on video bringing him to safety.

Camprubi, who is an experienced sailor and has competed in many local and international competitions, told La Voz de Galicia that the experience led him to decide he would no longer compete professionally.

“I don’t want to risk my life anymore,” he said. “I just want to take care of my family.”