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.
PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 01: General view of the docks days races ahead the beginning of the 34th Copa del Rey Mapfre Sailing Cup at the Royal Nautical Club on August 01, 2015 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
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.
PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 01: Participant of the 34th Copa del Rey Mapfre Sailing Cup makes the last preparations for the days races ahead of the beginning of the competition at the Royal Nautical Club on August 01, 2015 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
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.