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Injured Navy officer stranded in ocean storm makes contact with race organisers in France

india Updated: Sep 22, 2018 21:56 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Abhilash Tomy poses on his boat
Abhilash Tomy poses on his boat "Thuriya" in Les Sables d'Olonne Harbour, on June 29, 2018, ahead of the solo around-the-world sailing race for the "Golden Globe Race" ocean race in which sailors compete without high technology aides such as GPS or computers. (AFP)

Indian naval officer Abhilash Tomy, badly injured after his yacht was hit by a vicious storm mid-way across the southern Indian Ocean while taking part in the Golden Globe Race, is in touch with race organisers in France through messages and has requested for a stretcher as he cannot move on his own, a defence spokesman said on Saturday.

Commander Tomy, representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 (GGR) on an indigenously-built sailing vessel ‘S V Thuraya’, suffered a back injury on Friday after his yacht was dismasted in the severe storm with 14-metre-high waves.

Commander Abhilash Tomy was representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 on an indigenously-built sailing vessel ‘SV Thuraya’.
Commander Abhilash Tomy was representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 on an indigenously-built sailing vessel ‘SV Thuraya’. ( AFP )

“Cdr Tomy is in communication with the Race Control at France through messages. Race control is relaying messages to JRCC Australia. He has requested for a stretcher as he is not able to move on his own,” the defence spokesman quoted the Australian Joint Rescue Control Centre (JRCC) as saying in a release.

Another contestant ‘S V Hanley Energy Endurance’ was also heading towards S V Thuraya though it had suffered damage of its own.

An Australian fisheries vessel ‘Osiris’ is also heading towards location. Osiris has a medical officer and one bed infirmary on-board, it said.

A Royal Australian Navy Ship is likely to depart for the stricken vessel’s location and is estimated to arrive after four to five days. A P8I aircraft also will be available from tomorrow while a civil aircraft is also being sent to the area, the release said.

The Indian Navy had earlier said all efforts were being made to rescue the officer.

“All-out efforts are being made to rescue Abhilash Tomy. Indian Naval stealth Frigate, INS Satpura operating in the Indian Ocean has been dispatched for the rescue mission,” a defence spokesman said in Kochi.

Tomy’s vessel is in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth in Australia and the Australian Rescue Coordination centre at Canberra is coordinating the rescue mission in conjunction with many agencies, including the Australian defence department and the Indian Navy, he said, quoting information received from the organisers.

Tomy’s vessel was dismasted in extremely rough weather and sea conditions, with wind speeds of 130 kmh. He was in third position in the race and has sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days, since commencement of the race on July 1.

A report issued from France on Friday night said 70 knot winds and 14-metre-high waves have left the yachts of Tomy and Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin dismasted, and have twice knocked down the yacht of second-placed Dutchman Mark Slats.

Both McGuckin and Slats have reported that they are okay, but 39-year-old Tomy, a commander in the Indian Navy, making his second solo circumnavigation, has been injured, it had said.

It had also said other entrants were asked to make towards Tomy’s position if possible, and added that the weather was extreme.

The nearest yacht happens to be McGuckin’s ‘Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance’, some 90 miles to the southwest of Tomy’s ‘Thuriya’, but she too was dismasted in the same storm.

Tomy, who became the first Indian to have circumnavigated the globe in 2013, is the only Indian participating in the Golden Globe Race that involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe.

First Published: Sep 22, 2018 21:56 IST

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