a dramatic video of the recovery shows a Spanish search and rescue diver hitting the bottom of the boat, listening for signs of life. After being rescued Tuesday, Camprubi, 62, said he was able to survive thanks to an air bubble, according to the spanish coastguard and media reports.
The sailor said he was shocked when he realized the extent of the damage to his ship: a smashed mast, a destroyed boom, the keel and most of the equipment missing.
“I couldn’t understand how I could survive”, Camprubi, from Marseille, told the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia. “The conditions were very adverse.”
Camprubi set sail on Sunday in his 40-foot vessel from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, according to Reuters. She was taking part in a qualifying regatta for the upcoming Route du Rhum transatlantic solo sailing competition, which takes place every four years.
He had arrived on Monday at Fisterra in the west Spain, where he encountered strong winds and ten-foot waves, and soon realized that his boat had lost its keel, a beam that runs through the middle of the boat, he said in the interview with La Voz de Galicia.
“I was trying to pull on the mainsail when the ship started to list,” he told the newspaper. “So without much thought, I went in and within 15 seconds, the boat had capsized.”
In a rescue mission that has been described as “on the verge of the impossible”, rescue teams battled against the rough sea. Vicente Cobelo, a member of the Coast Guard special operations team, told laSexta TV that when the rescuer hit the boat Monday night to see if there were any survivors, he got an answer.
“Then we knew someone was under there,” he said.
But the waters were too rough to attempt a rescue. So the team 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 is 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. on Monday, but dropped sharply overnight. By Tuesday, the water was filling up and he knew he was running out of time. But she kept her cool, she said.
“I never panicked,” he told La Voz de Galicia. “I tried to see reality and find solutions. I was afraid that I would never see my children again.”
On Tuesday, two divers swam under the boat to free the sailor, who was wearing a survival suit and knee-deep in water, coast guard officials said.
Cobelo, a member of the coast guard, told reporters that when the divers approached the boat, the sailor jumped into the icy water and swam under the boat to reach the surface.
“On his own initiative, he got into the water and dived in apnea, helped by the divers who had to get him out because it was difficult for him to get out with the survival suit,” Cobelo explains to laSexta Televisión.
Just after noon on Tuesday, rescue teams could be seen on video carrying him to safety.
Camprubi, who is an experienced sailor and has participated in many local and international competitions, told La Voz de Galicia that the experience has made him decide that he will no longer compete professionally.
“I don’t want to risk my life anymore,” he said. “I just want to take care of my family.”