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Exclusive: Indian Abhilash Tomy, once stranded at sea, takes 2nd hit in world’s toughest sailing event, India News News


In 2018, his boat was destroyed while he was sailing alone, in the middle of nowhere… He suffered a terrible fall which left him with multiple fractures of the spine and legs without function… While he was waiting for a rescue, (which took nearly four days to reach ), he was not thinking of giving up… He had only firmed up his resolve to set out again and attempt the most difficult circumnavigation race in the world, by invitation, a second time only, solo and non-stop – The Golden Globe Race (GGR). After an unfortunate accident in 2018, Commander Abhilash Tomy, the former Indian Navy officer is back in 2022 – to endure and enjoy the non-stop sailing of 30,000 nautical miles, for up to 250 days.

WION had an exclusive chat with the daredevil adventurer from India, where he shared what keeps him going.

Tomy’s announcement of his participation in the latest edition of the Golden Globe Race was made on Twitter. The message read- “3 and a half years (years) later, I’m going back to the same race that almost got me killed. Wish me luck!”. Tomy recalls that the decision to compete again was natural and didn’t require any thought.

“The decision to come back and sail (GGR) was made while I was lying injured and battered on my boat, in 2018. For me, the tough decision would have been not to contest this year,” he said. – he laughed. It comes from a man, who required surgery after his 2018 accident and had titanium rods inserted into his spine, in addition to having five of his vertebrae fused into one.

Only the best can make it to the GGR and that too on an invitation basis, but his first shot at racing around the world was filled with immense difficulty.

Referring to his situation at the time as an “interesting time”, he says “I was hurt physically, my wife was pregnant, my boat was damaged and I had no money”.

However, this time around, thanks to the vast experience he has gained in the sport, Tomy is better equipped and prepared. In 2018 he started building a boat (which costs crores) then started looking for a sponsor which left him broke and anxious.

Despite the financial mess in which he found himself, Tomy decided to continue the race, with the help of multiple donors, who helped him in their little ways. Now, Tomy is fully sponsored by Bayanat, a company that offers predictive geospatial intelligence and backed by Jellyfish Watersports, a Kerala-based sailing and kayaking company.

For his first circumnavigation attempt Tomy had to prepare hard and sail over 27,000 nautical miles in the same boat, for his first GGR attempt it took a year of preparation and now he is confident to handle this attempt with nearly five months of preparation. “For the first attempt at the GGR I built a 32ft boat with two masts, it was a replica of the original boat that won the GGR and it was based on a 1923 design. The current boat is a 36ft with a single masthead and has a much newer design.As I don’t have any sailing hours on this boat, I plan to get at least 3,000 miles.

Known for its brutal rules and regulations, the GGR is a sailing race where you can only rely on sailboats, equipment and technology that dates back to the year 1968 (the year the original race was organized ). This means that sailors will have to rely solely on their sextants, their sea sense and their celestial navigation (positioning based on the sun and moon) to find their way. The only GPS equipment they will carry is that which transmits their position to the race PC. Although they have the essential technology to alert rescuers in the event of an accident/accident, using this option will mean being disqualified.

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If that doesn’t make the trip hard enough, Tomy explains what it’s like to be there – “Let’s say you haven’t slept in 28 hours, but you want to get some sleep. But your clothes are soaked and it’s five degrees out there and it’s windy… the boat is rocking all over the place, your bed is wet, salt water is running into your eyes, you have salt in your armpits and hair and you don’t haven’t changed clothes for almost ten days… A shower is something that happens once every 30 days… Imagine cooking or using the toilet in such conditions… In an uncertain climate, you should also spend almost four hours a day to determine your position using traditional methods. All this must last for almost 300 days”.

When asked why he wants to undertake such extreme challenges, stress and loneliness, Tomy laughs that he finds it harder to sit in an office chair and go through accounts and sign accounts. papers. “It’s (sailing it is), hard for you, not for me. I like that solitude,” said the former Indian naval aviator. For his family in Goa, all they want is for him to prepare well and be competitive.

“My wife is happy with it, my youngest son is three and too young to understand. But the eldest son, who is 12, calls it the ‘Golden Death Race’. They are all in Goa, but I will commuting between France, the Netherlands and the UK I hope to return to India in the coming months to meet my family, before I start racing,” said Tomy.

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For those who think that this fascination with sailing is something Tomy learned from his time in the Indian Navy, it actually didn’t work out that way. Being at sea was a childhood fascination for him. The desire only grew stronger, thanks to her father, who served as an officer in the Indian Navy. “I remember the first expedition of the Indian army to go around the world was during my childhood, it was something that captivated me. I was also someone who read books about sailing expeditions and stories of being stranded at sea, etc. Thanks to my father, I even attended a few events in sailing clubs, as a young boy.”

Recalling that he had to abort the 2018 race after sailing for 82 days (1/3 of the trip), Tomy half-jokes that he was lucky to have encountered a storm and lost the race and the boat, because to win/finish the race and bring his boat back to India would have cost him extra Rs 25 lakh, that too at a time when he was too broke. “You must remember that I only spent Rs 350 to even get married,” he signed off.

The Golden Globe Race 2022 follows this route: Departure from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on September 4, 2022 and sailing solo (depending on the wind and the sea current), non-stop around the world, via the five Grandes Caps and back in Sables d’Olonne.


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