Abhilash Tomy: Injured Indian sailor to be rescued ‘soon’

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Thuriya set sail from France at the start of July on the round-the-world race

A seriously injured Indian sailor is likely to be rescued in the next few hours, as a French fishing vessel nears the location of his yacht.

Solo yachtsman Abhilash Tomy is stranded 3,200km (2,000 miles) off the coast of Western Australia.

His yacht Thuriya had its mast broken during a storm in the Indian Ocean, while he was was participating in the Golden Globe round-the-world race.

The Indian navy has also dispatched vessels to help with the rescue.

“What we know is that a French fishing vessel Osiris should be reaching the spot very soon. They have a medic and a stretcher on board. If all goes well, he will be rescued and transferred to an Australian naval ship which sailed from Perth to the location on Sunday morning,” Indian Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma told the BBC.

“The sea unites us all. Whoever gets to the yacht first will rescue Tomy.”

Tomy is communicating using a texting unit, after his satellite phone was broken. He managed to send an initial message saying he has a severe back injury and is immobilised, unable to eat or drink.

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Abhilash Tomy has already sailed round the world once in 2013

On Sunday, race organisers said he sent another message, “Lugged cans of ice tea, Having that. Vomiting continuously. Chest burning”.

But even as rescue nears, there is concern as the weather around the area appears to be worsening.

“We are getting reports of long swells, six to eight metre tall waves, heavy rain and clouding,” Captain Sharma said.

Rescue mission to reach injured Indian sailor

Race organisers said on Sunday that Tomy was “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat…. as far from help as you can possibly be”.

His boat, the Thuriya, is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili, winner of the first Golden Globe Race in 1968.

On Saturday, he sent a message, saying: “Extremely difficult to walk, Might need stretcher, can’t walk, thanks safe inside the boat … Sat phone down.”

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The approximate location of the Thuriya at 02:28 GMT on Saturday

Friday’s storm whipped up 70-knot winds and 14-metre (45ft) waves, which also knocked down the yacht of another competitor, Dutchman Mark Slats, twice.

Most of the 11 competitors still in the race were further north and avoided the worst of the storm, organisers said.

The Golden Globe race involves a single-handed circumnavigation of the globe – a distance of 30,000 miles – without using modern technology, except for satellite communications.

Competitors started from France on 1 July; seven boats have so far withdrawn from the race.

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