Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Abhilash Tomy: Australian plane joins rescue mission to save injured Indian sailor

Abhilash Tomy: Australian plane joins rescue mission to save injured Indian sailor

The storm, which is said to have partly damaged the boats of at least two other race participants, broke SV Thuriya's main mast.

Tomy will be picked up by the French vessel Osiris.

An Indian Navy officer who has circumnavigated the world has been injured after his yacht was hit by a vicious storm in the ongoing Golden Globe circumnavigation race in the South Indian Ocean, race organisers said late on Friday. Tomy is approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth on the country's west coast.

The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra is coordinating the mission in conjunction with agencies including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy.

The ADF said the Royal Australian Navy Frigate, HMAS Ballarat, sailed from Perth on Saturday night for the 39-year-old's last known location.

"Continuous watch over the boat is being maintained by Indian Navy and RAAF aircraft till the rescue is completed", said a note released by the Indian Navy.

The SV Thuriya
The SV Thuriya Credit

A former Naval officer, Commander Arun Jyoti (retd), posted on social media that Captain Alok Ananda, Yudh Seva Medal, who is commanding INS Satpura, was at sea somewhere in the Indian Ocean when he was tasked to rescue Tomy. He was representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 (GGR) on an indigenously-built sailing vessel "S V Thuraya". "He was in the 3rd position out of 11 worldwide participants in the GGR competition having sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in 84 days since the race started on July 1", said the spokesperson.

But every second counts, as Tomy - an officer in the Indian Navy who became the first Indian to sail solo round the world in 2013 - has sustained such a serious back injury that he is confined to his bunk and unable to reach any source of fresh water, while many of his communication systems have been disabled. Tomy is apparently unable to move and has requested emergency assistance following which the Indian Navy and the Australian government have pressed rescue services.

AMSA, which is coordinating the search, said the crews saw that the yacht was dismasted but did not get further information about Tomy's condition. They are also banned from using modern technology such as Global Positioning System and mobile phones.

Tomy's own yacht is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston's Suhail, victor of the first Golden Globe Race. He was in third position in the race and has sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days, since the race started on 1 July.

He is the only Indian participating in the Golden Globe Race, which involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used in the first race 50 years ago.

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