ATLANTIC OCEAN, off the coast of Spain (KFOR/Storyful) – When a 62-year-old French sailor’s vessel capsized, trapping him underneath, he sent a distress call to notify Spain’s search and rescue team – but the waters were too rough to rescue him. He spent the next 16 hours at the mercy of the freezing sea in the pitch black of night, with just about a foot of air to breathe.

Camprubi was sailing in the Atlantic about 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands when his 40-foot boat capsized around 8:20 p.m. on August 1st.

Divers did arrive that night, and as the video above shows, they banged on the bottom of the boat. Laurent Camprubi knocked back. But because of the rough seas and darkness, rescuers could only attach floating devices to the sailboat and hope that Camprubi could survive the night.

They returned the following day to find Camprubi very much alive, which divers told the BBC was “verging on the impossible.” The solo sailor was wearing a neoprene survival suit.

He was airlifted to a hospital, but was released shortly thereafter.

Camprubi told La Opinion Coruna, “I thought, they know I’m here and they’re going to save me. The problem is that I couldn’t get out of the boat, which was full of water, and it only had 30 or 40 centimeters (about 10 to 15 inches) of air.”

Spain’s Maritime Safety and Rescue Society tweeted about the rescue: “Each life saved is our biggest reward.”