French Sailor Survives Overnight in an Air Pocket in Capsized Yacht

Courtesy Salvamento Maritimo

Published Aug 3, 2022 6:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

Against all odds, a French sailor in his 60s survived inside of a capsized sailing yacht off the coast of Galicia, Spain overnight Monday, breathing from an air pocket until Spanish rescue divers reached him the following afternoon.

At about 2000 hours on Monday, the Class40 sailing yacht Jeanne Solo Sailor capsized at a position about 14 miles northwest of the Sisargas Islands, west of A Coruña. The sole occupant, 62-year-old French national Laurent Camprubi, told Spanish outlet Efe that the vessel went over in just 15 seconds. He managed to activate his EPIRB, but he was trapped inside the vessel with "30-40 centimeters of air" to breathe in heavy seas. 

A rescue helicopter located the upturned yacht's hull that night and vectored in a response boat carrying divers from Salvamento Maritimo. A diver made contact with Camprubi by knocking on the hull, but the seas were too rough to allow for a rescue. They decided to wait for morning and an improvement in the weather, and they affixed float bags to the hull to keep it from sinking.

At about noon on Tuesday, the weather abated and the divers managed to get under the yacht and reach Camprubi. He was safely evacuated, and a helicopter flew him to shore at Alvedro for medical examination. 

"The situation was difficult because I was holding on, crouched, with half my body out of the water so as not to be too cold. I had to resist. My fear was thinking that they would not come get [me]," he told Heraldo. "When they came in the morning, I knew they were going to get it. They did a fantastic job, just fantastic."

Camprubi, an experienced ocean racing skipper with multiple transatlantic crossings to his credit, told Spanish outlet Heraldo that he plans to stick to calmer waters from here out.