Navy officer Abhilash Tomy wants to return to ocean

The capsized yacht Thuriya of solo sailor Abhilash Tomy is pictured at sea in this September 24, 2018 handout photo by the Indian Navy. Indian Navy/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

For nearly 72 hours, Commander Abhilash Tomy stared at near-certain death at one of the most desolate locations on the planet in the southern Indian Ocean.

His boat Thuriya (weighing 9 tonnes) was knocked down twice by a violent storm with a wind speed of 140 km per hour and he was hit by waves up to 10 metres of height. The boat rolled over and broke its mast. Tomy received serious injuries on his back and was incapacitated.

Another round of violent storm or monstrous waves meant death as he was lying down in his bunk, unable to move.

“But I never gave up. In the navy, we are trained to keep our will to survive intact. I didn’t have any food or water for three days, but managed to lay my hands on some iced tea cans that I sipped occasionally,” the 39-year-old navy officer, who was in the capital after three months of medical treatment, told DH.

Cdr Tomy was in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth in Australia and 2,700 nm (approximately 5,020 km on ground) from Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari).

He was in the third position of the Golden Globe Race and had sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in 84 days since the race commenced on July 1, 2018. The 30,000 nautical mile Golden Globe Race is held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original race which saw British mariner Sir Robin Knox-Johnston successfully completing the voyage in 312 days, to become the first human to finish a solo, unassisted and non-stop circumnavigation of the world.

The 2018 race began with 18 skippers, but only six are in competition now as it completes 200 days on Thursday.After three never-ending days, Tomy was finally rescued by a French fishing vessel in the vicinity. The sailor was taken out on a stretcher and shifted first to Ile Amsterdam.Subsequently, he was brought to Visakhapatnam by INS Satpura. Cdr Tomy tied the nuptial knot in April but could spend little time with his wife before joining the race at the French post of Les Sables-D’Olonne. “And then she saw me 20 kg lighter with a rod attached to the spine,” he chuckled.

“The navy has given me six months of time (till June end) during which I will do desk jobs in Goa. I will have to check my fitness level before going back to the ocean,” he said.

The Naval commander, who did a solo, non-stop circumnavigation five years ago, will be attached to an ocean sailing node that Indian Navy created recently to popularise sail-boat voyages. But his eye are hooked on the upcoming races.

“Indian Navy participated in all the Cape2Rio race since 2011. The next edition of Golden Globe will happen in 2022. Since sailing is not constrained by age, I hope to make it for one of those races,” said Tomy, eager to return to the deep blue ocean.

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Navy officer Abhilash Tomy wants to return to ocean

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