“A rescue at the limit of the impossible“. That is how “Salvamento Maritimo“(the Spanish sea rescue service) described on Facebook the rescue, on Tuesday, of the 62-year-old Marseille navigator, whose boat had capsized the day before in the Atlantic, in the middle of the qualifying course for the Route du Rhum 2022.
According “Salvamento Maritimo“, Laurent Camprubi was 14 miles (22 kilometers) from the small archipelago of Sisargas, off the coast of Galicia (north-west of Spain), when he triggered his distress beacon on Monday at 8:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. GMT).
A search was quickly launched, which made it possible to locate his sailboat, the “Jeanne Solo Sailor“, tossed about by high waves and plunged into darkness, according to information provided to AFP on Thursday by the rescue service.
It was “the keel upside down“and there was”no trace of its occupant“, Explain “Salvamento maritimo“, which dispatched a ship and three helicopters to the scene, supported by a merchant ship.
One of the rescuers, dropped by a helicopter on the overturned sailboat, hit the hull. He perceived “blows back“, which made him understand “that there was someone trapped inside“.
Several other divers then joined the sailboat. There have been “screams and blows“on the shell and”emotion skyrocketed“, explained two of them, Antonio Gómez and Andrés Pita, quoted by “Salvamento Maritimo“.
According to the skipper of the rescue vessel, Rodrigo Piñeiro, the conditions were difficult and it was necessary to work in a way “frantic“to ensure that the sailboat does not sink.
– “Barely 30 centimeters of air“-
It was finally after several hours of work that the divers, equipped with flashlights and in the middle of a very rough sea, managed to penetrate under the hull, where they saw a red boot.
“The immediate reaction was to touch her and the foot pulled out instantly“, explain the rescuers, who then stretched a pole in the cabin that Laurent Camprubi immediately grabbed.
Once outside, the skipper grabbed hold of the sailboat and turned to the divers, all smiles: “Thanks thanks thanks!“, he exclaimed.
“I knew they were there and that they were going to rescue me, that they were not going to abandon me. It was a matter of time. I had to survive for me and my family“, said Laurent Camprubi, quoted in the press release.
It was 12:00 p.m. (10:00 GMT) and it had just passed 4 p.m.in barely 30 centimeters of air“, underlines the press release. He was then evacuated, unscathed, by helicopter.
In a photo posted by “Salvamento Maritimo“, we see the skipper, beaming, in a shirt and sandals, on a pontoon. Next to him is his sailboat, still upside down, kept out of the water by large yellow buoys.
Laurent Camprubi, who presents himself on the Route du Rhume website as a passionate “solo race“, has several victories in regattas, including the Rolex Giraglia, in the Mediterranean.
Juan Ferrer, chief of operations of the rescue service, underlined that the French sailor “was equipped with a special suit which prevented him from hypothermia“.
But he also praised his “acquaintances, which allowed him to calmly await our arrival“.