A skipper competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was airlifted to hospital after nearly ripping his thumb off.
David Hartshorn had been leading a crew of amateur sailors when the accident occurred 450 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal.
His thumb was almost taken clean off as the crew conducted a spinnaker drop when the guard rail became caught between his thumb and the sheet.
Mr Hartshorn’s thumb was left partially detached and with a serious open fracture – requiring urgent medical attention.
Soon after the accident, the 52-year-old – with his hand heavily bandaged – jumped off of the 70ft Greenings yacht so he could be medevaced from the water.
“The moment it happened, I knew that I had done something and I knew that something wasn’t quite right,” he said.
On looking down at his hand immediately afterwards, Mr Hartshorn said he could see his bone sticking out and his thumb “flopping off to one side”.
Pressed on how he felt looking at his hand, he said: “I did 30 years as a police officer, I have seen a lot worse… it just so happened to be on me this time.”
Fellow crew members administered first aid to the skipper immediately after he sustained the injury.
The incident happened just days after the race, which will visit cities including South Africa’s Cape Town, Sanya in China and New York, had begun.
Speaking of being airlifted, he said: “That was a very surreal moment to actually step off the boat and watch it disappear and just hope that the helicopter would actually pick me up.”
Once airlifted to Hospital de Sao Sebastiao he underwent three hours of surgery on Sunday night, seeing his thumb wired back into place.
Mr Hartshorn aims to rejoin the race in Freemantle, Australia.
He said: “They are a great crew, with lots of self-belief and I know they will put everything into doing very well, not just in the remainder of this leg, but in all future races.
“I’m gutted not to be with them now but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
This year is the eleventh edition of the biennial race, which departed from Liverpool’s Albert Dock on August 20.
Some 713 amateur sailors are taking part in the 40,000-nautical mile journey, aiming to return to Liverpool in July 2018.