KOCHI:Commander Abhilash Tomy, who had to brave rough sea and inclement weather for three days after damaging his yacht and sustaining a grievous back injury while participating in the Golden Globe Race, a solo non-stop circumnavigation event, was rescued on Monday.
French fisheries patrol vessel Osiris, which was engaged by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra (JRCC), reached Tomy’s yacht Thuriya by Monday noon using a Zodiac inflatable boat.
After administering first aid, Tomy was shifted to the vessel using an orange stretcher. “Tomy is conscious, talking and aboard Orisis. Australian and Indian long range P8 Orion reconnaissance aircraft are circling overhead,” reported JRCC.
“The good news is he has been rescued and shifted to a fishing vessel. He has been provided first aid. Australian naval vessel HMAS Ballarat, which had set off from Perth on Saturday, will reach the spot on Tuesday. The ship has a doctor and medical facilities on board. INS Satpura, an Indian Navy vessel which was in the southern Indian Ocean, is also proceeding to the spot. But it’ll reach the spot only on Thursday,” Defence PRO Commander Sridhar Warrier told Express.
The conditions were relatively favourable on Monday afternoon, which helped the smooth evacuation of the injured sailor. The wind had calmed down and was blowing at around 30 kmph while the wave swell was around 2 m. A radio conference involving the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre on Reunion Island, a doctor located on Amsterdam Island and the master of the Osiris was held before the French crew boarded Thuriya. The Golden Globe Race involves 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used 50 years ago.
‘I’ll go to Australia if Tomy is hospitalised’
Thuriya, a 36-foot long yacht used by Tomy, is a replica of Suhaili, the boat of the first Golden Globe winner Robin Knox-Johnston, 50 years ago. It rolled 360 degree and was dismasted as it was caught in a storm, which whipped up strong winds touching 130 kmph speed and waves rising 15 m high, making it extremely challenging to stay afloat. The incident occurred 3,000 km south west of Australian coast on Friday.
Though he was incapacitated and his satellite phone was damaged, Tomy remained in touch with the race organisers sending messages at regular intervals. He said though there was a second satellite phone in his bag, he was unable to reach it. In his last message, he had informed he was suffering from continuous vomiting and chest burning.
Tomy’s father Lt Commander (retd) V C Tomy told Express: “I’m relieved to hear Tomy has been rescued. He’s tired, dehydrated and in need of medical attention. I’m waiting for an update on his health. He’ll be taken to Amsterdam Island, where there are medical facilities. The doctors there will assess his health condition and make a decision on whether to shift him to Australia for treatment or fly him to India. I’ll go to Australia if he’s admitted to a hospital there.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “A sense of relief to know that naval officer @abhilashtomy is rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay. The vessel will shift him to a nearby island (I’lle Amsterdam) by evening. INS Satpura will take him to Mauritius for medical attention.”
Fellow Golden Globe race participant Gregor Mcguckin, whose yacht was also dismasted in the storm, was making 2.2 knots towards Thuriya’s position, sailing under jury rig. The 32-year old Irishman was not in distress, but asked for a controlled evacuation from his yacht.
Once the two solo yachtsmen are safely rescued, the French fisheries patrol ship will proceed to Amsterdam Island where the rescued sailors will be given a full medical examination. The hospital on Amsterdam Island is well equipped with X-ray and ultrasound equipment, the organisers said in a release.