UPDATED: Indian Navy Plane Spots Dismasted GGR Sailor’s Boat

The Indian Navy flew over Abilhash Tomy’s dismasted sailboat with a P8i aircraft launched from Port Louis Mauritius at 0200 this morning on September 23, 2018.

Indian Navy photo

It established visual contact with SV Thuriya at 0750 local and Indian Standard Time (UTC+5:30). Thuriya’s mast was broken and still attached to the boat pointing down into the sea. The Golden Globe Race reports that Tomy could not contact them with VHF because his handheld unit was not operational.

Tomy was competing in the Golden Globe Race for small sailboats. That race has competitors sail solo-nonstop around the world via the Southern Ocean with limited modern electronics. They have satellite phones and EPIRB rescue beacons for emergencies. Tomy set off his EPIRB yesterday and has written that he cannot move due to a back injury. Tomy is a pilot and Commander of the Indian Navy, and Thuriya is a replica of Suhali, the first boat to sail solo nonstop around the world. Both boats were built in India.

Photo by the Indian Navy

Abhilash Tomy, who is 1,900 miles west southwest of Perth, Australia wrote via satellite phone “ACTIVATED EPIRB.CANT WALK.MIGHT NEED STRETCHER”. He further wrote, “CAN MOVE TOES. FEEL NUMB. CAN’T EAT OR DRINK. TOUGH 2 REACH GRAB BAG”. Tomy has more recently complained of vomiting and chest pains in text messages.

Photo credits: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR
Caption: Commander Abhilash Tomy his Suhaili replica yacht THURIYA , photographed off Lanzarote, Canaries during the compulsory film drop off Marina Rubicon on 16th June 2018. 

Commander Abhilash Tomy, KC from Mumbai, India is an entrant in the 2018 Golden Globe Race. Abhilash has covered 52,000 miles under sail while in the Indian Navy including a solo non-stop circumnavigation from Mumbai and back in 2012 to 2013.

One boat is his fellow Golden Globe Racer Gregor McGuckin motor-sailing under jury rig. Both McGuckin and Tomy were dismasted in a storm of 70-knot winds and 14-meter seas on September 21, 2018. McGuckin’s engine is dying and his only spinnaker pole use for the jury rig is bending in high winds. He is expecting to arrive at Tomy’s disabled vessel at sunrise on Monday.

“He [McGuckin] may be asked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Canberra to abandon his own yacht and board Thuriya to provide immediate assistance to the injured yachtsman. Telemedicine doctors MSOS in the UK would then be able to speak directly to Abhilash via Gregor’s satellite phone and suggest appropriate first aid as well as advise JRCC of his condition to help forward planning,” wrote GGR headquarters.

A French fisheries patrol boat, Osiris, is Tomy and McGuckin’s most immediate chance of rescue. Osiris is expected on. Monday 1000 UTC. It has been delayed by adverse sea conditions and is motoring at 4.1 knots, according to GGR race headquarters. It has medical facilities on board.

The Australian and Indian Navy are sending ships but their arrival could take days.

Including, Tomy and McGuckin who are likely to abandon their stricken boats ten of the eighteen skippers have abandoned or been eliminated from the 30,000 mile solo-nonstop race. Three sailboats leaving the start line have thus far been dismasted. Norwegian sailor Are Wiig sailed his dismasted sailboat under jury rig into Cape Town in early September.

Dr. Linus Wilson, is a USCG licensed “six-pack” captain and is the creator of the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast and YouTube Channel. He has written several books about sailboat cruising, including How to Sail Around the World Part-Time.

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