French sailor Laurent Camprubi knew something was wrong when he was raising the mainsail on his 40-foot ocean racer and the boat began to heel in a way that he knew was not normal.
“Without giving it much thought, I went inside, and in 15 seconds, the boat had capsized,” he told the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia after he was rescued by Spanish Coast Guard divers.
Camprubi spent 16 anxious hours trapped inside the vessel breathing from a small air pocket while he waited for rescue divers to return. He had been found by a helicopter crew the night before as darkness set in, but due to rough conditions the divers had to wait until morning to rescue him.
Vicente Cobelo, a member of the Coast Guard’s special operations team, told the laSexta TV station that when he banged on the boat Monday night to see whether there were any survivors, he got a response.
Camprubi was participating in a qualifying race for the upcoming transatlantic solo sailing contest Route du Rhum when his boat capsized. He told La Voz de Galicia it was the thought of not seeing his wife and children again that helped him survive the ordeal and he said he was shocked when he saw the extent of the damage, which included a shattered mast, a destroyed boom and a lost keel.
The 62-year-old sailor said 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.”