MADRID (AP) — An 84-year-old yacht owner who was knocked into the storm-tossed Mediterranean Sea by a swinging boom and survived more than four hours in the water is still keen to compete in a race, event organizers said Sunday.
Jacinto Rodriguez, skipper of "Duende 52," wasn't wearing a life jacket when he went overboard in darkness at around 4.30 a.m., but his padded pants helped keep him afloat.
"The pants were bad for swimming, but they gave me buoyancy", Rodriguez later told reporters.
He had been sailing to participate along with 136 other boats in Spain's 34th Copa del Rey regatta off the resort island of Mallorca.
While off the island of Dragonera — which lies just west of Mallorca — and in winds of 35 knots, Rodriguez gave instructions to lower the mainsail, causing the boat to gybe and the boom to hit him on the forehead, throwing him overboard.
Duende's crew issued a mayday and a rescue helicopter was scrambled, but initially no trace of Rodriguez was found.
About to leave, the helicopter radioed its location to other vessels in the area and a passing sailing boat, the Sea Hawk, reported it had spotted someone in the water.
With the aid of the Sea Hawk's crew, Rodriguez was winched out of choppy seas and transported to hospital by helicopter.
The Copa's Twitter account later showed Rodriguez wearing a bandage, reading a seagoing magazine and saying he was still eager to race.