President Pranab Mukherjee accorded a warm welcome on Saturday to Indian Navy's Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy who became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe, solo and non-stop, in a sail boat over a 150-day voyage.
"To sustain a long voyage of over 150 days at sea, solo, non-stop, unassisted and sailing through some of the most treacherous oceans of the world, is a remarkable feat.
"This rare achievement showcases the spirit of determination, resolve and courage of both the individual and the organisation he represents," the president said.
He was addressing a function after welcoming Tomy whose boat INSV Mhadei reached the Gateway of India after commencing its historic journey from the same spot on November 1 last year.
He said solo circum-navigation, apart from being a physically arduous task, also requires very high standards of knowledge of navigation, meteorology and boat maintenance.
"The circum-navigator not only gets tossed around by the rough seas but also has to fight solitude and the imponderables of life at sea, away from civilisation. Battling wave heights of 9-10 meters and wind speeds in excess of 100kmph coupled with Antarctic chills can be an extreme test of human endurance," Mukherjee said.
"I am sure that this achievement of Lt Cmdr Abhilash Tomy will continue to be a source of inspiration for future generations of young seafarers. His epic voyage has placed our nation into the ranks of a few select countries whose citizens have been successful in braving such an arduous voyage," the president said.
Responding to the welcome, Tomy said "it is fulfilment of a 14-year old dream and four years of hard work. This difficult voyage was made possible by efforts of lots of people". He singled out his aide Mohammad Alam, saying he was the person "I missed during these 150 days".
Navy chief admiral DK Joshi said it was Mukherjee who had sanctioned the Sagar Parikrama project, as the then defence minister.
Later, talking to reporters, Tomy said for him, the scariest moment of the voyage was when he encountered the rough sea near the Cape of Good Hope.
"To undertake crossing of the three Capes, i.e. Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope alone require courage, determination and grit of the highest order," the president said, lauding the navy officer's spirit.
So far, less than 80 people in the world have successfully completed such a voyage. Tomy is the first Indian and the second Asian to do so.
He has sailed around 23,100 nautical miles, crossing the Indian, Southern, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. His route, from West to East, took him south of the continents of Australia, South America and Africa, thus rounding the three "Great Capes" — Cape Leeuwin in Australia, Cape Horn in South America and Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
INSV Mhadei was custom-built for the Indian Navy, on the banks of her namesake river in Goa in 2009 and this was her second solo circumnavigation trip within a span of four years.