A Canadian passenger plane is being credited with helping rescue officials identify the location of a yacht in trouble off the coast of Australia.

The Australian sailor’s yacht was swamped by a huge wave and left stranded at sea off the coast of New South Wales state for a week.

Glenn Ey was greeted by his parents on arrival after being rescued by police boat 500km off the coast, local media reported.

Ey said he spent days trying to outlast an enormous storm which capsized his boat and broke his mast.

An Air Canada Boeing 777 found the missing solo yachtsman.

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) began searching for the 11-metre yacht "Streaker" which had a damaged mast after an emergency beacon was activated.

The Air Canada plane flying from Vancouver to Sydney was asked by AMSA to divert to the area where the emergency beacon was and assess the situation.

"My heart started beating a little bit faster, anything out of the ordinary on an international flight like that is a bit concerning," said passenger Jill Barber.

Captain Andrew Robertson called on the passengers to help look for the vessel.

"'We'd really appreciate it if everyone would look out their windows,'" Barber quoted the captain as saying.

Australia's Network Ten reported that there was no sign of the 44-year-old Queensland yachtsman at first, but as the Air Canada plane made a second pass he was seen on deck.

An Air New Zealand flight then flew over to confirm the location and nature of the distress.

After the vessel's location was confirmed, both the Air Canada Boeing 777 and Air New Zealand A320 continued on to Sydney.