In the early hours of last Sunday morning, 84-year-old yachtsman Jacinto Rodriguez fell overboard from his yacht Duende 52 en route to Palma to compete in the Copa del Rey. The British yacht Seahawk, a 60-metre Perinin Navi on her way to Ibiza, heard the Mayday calls from Palma MRCC with regard to a man overboard at around 03.30, and the position given was about four hours down her track. The captain, Gerhard Veldsman, informed the next watch to keep a sharp lookout when reaching the area. All crew members who were awake at the time came on deck, and one of the stewardesses, Emma Ross, spotted the 84-year-old. His own crew had apparently lost complete contact with him and could not locate him.
Seahawk threw up a beacon of orange smoke and life ring overboard and got a line to Rodriguez. As it was quite rough and she was towing a tender, it would have been very complicated and dangerous to have got him onboard and was something the crew would only have attempted if there was no helicopter in the area.
Luckily, a helicopter was on the scene as the casualty got pulled close to Seahawk and he eventually let go of Seahawk’s line to be plucked to safety by divers from the air sea rescue helicopter. And last night, the Maritime Rescue services and the Air Force also received the Seamanship Distinction from the Copa del Rey organisers for all the hard work they do year in year out, whatever the weather, to save seafarers.