Rodriguez clutches to a line in the water. | Seahawk


84-year-old yacht skipper Jacinto Rodriguez has become the hero of the Copa del Rey after being dramatically rescued from the sea on Sunday.

And yesterday, fellow yachtsman King Felipe VI, listened to Rodriguez’s amazing story during a visit to the Real Club Nautico where he will also be competing in the regatta this week.

What is more, the skipper of the yacht which spotted Rodriguez, raised the alarm and helped save him, provided the Bulletin with exclusive pictures of the rescue and an eyewitness account. The 84-year-old was knocked into the storm-tossed sea by a swinging boom and survived more than four hours in the water.

Jacinto Rodriguez, skipper of Duende 52, was not wearing a life jacket when he went overboard in darkness at around 4.30 am, but his padded pants helped keep him afloat.

“The pants were bad for swimming, but they gave me buoyancy,” Rodriguez said later as he prepared to continue with his plans to compete in the regatta.

Gerhard Veldsman, the skipper of Seahawk, which spotted Rodriguez, told the Bulletin yesterday: “My boss happened to be on board his sailing vessel, Seahawk (60 metre Perinin Navi), en route to Ibiza, and as we passed the coast of Majorca, we heard the Mayday calls from Palma MRCC with regard to a man overboard. We heard the first Mayday calls around 3.30am and the position given was about four hours down our track. I informed the next watch to keep a sharp lookout when reaching the area. All crew who were wake at the time came on deck, and one of my stewardesses, Emma Ross, spotted the man".