Rescued Golden Globe 2018 sailor enters 2022 race

Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy was an entrant in the 50th Anniversary edition of the Golden Globe, a solo non-stop race around the world which started from Les Sables d’Olonne France on July 1, 2018.

Abhilash Tomy smiling.
Abhilash Tomy. Pic – GGR2018

He was rescued after 83 days at sea following a complex international effort. The winner of the first 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe was Englishman Sir Robin Knox Johnston sailing a 32ft timber yacht built in India named Suhaili. He became the first person ever to solo circumnavigate the globe non-stop after 312 days. Abhilash was sailing an exact replica of Suhail, named Thuriya also built in India.

Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy and Sir Robin Knox Johnston on board Thuriya, standing in the companion way.
Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy and Sir Robin Knox Johnston on board Thuriya. Pic – GGR2018

Abhilash, a Navy commander who had previously sailed solo non-stop around the world was running third in the race when an extreme storm deep in the Southern Indian Ocean rolled and dismasted his yacht, severely injuring his back and unable to move his legs. Trapped below, he sent a short text message to race control and turned his EPIRB on. Then all communication was lost.

Thuriya sailing on a run with three sails, going towards the camera.
Beautiful Thuriya. Pic – GGR2018

Half way between Australia and South Africa, the disabled yacht was as far from rescue as anyone could be. Three and a half days later, a French Government fisheries patrol vessel OSIRIS arrived at the scene. In difficult conditions the crew were able to recover Abhilash in a stretcher. He was later transferred to an Indian Navy vessel sent to recover him and two days after arriving in India titanium rods were inserted in his spine and 5 vertebrae were fused into one.

“My legs were so badly off that I had to learn to walk again,” said Abhilash. “But I did learn to walk, and then got into a cockpit and got back to Navy flying, and sailing! Now three and a half years later, I am heading back into the same race.”

Two people holding each corner of the United Arab Emirates flag.
Abhilash Tomy (R) and Hasan Al Hosani, CEO of Bayanat at Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday. Pic – Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Today at the Dubai Expo 2020, Abhilash announced his sponsor Bayanat and official entry in the 2022 Golden Globe Race. Bayanat, a G42 company specializing in AI-powered geospatial intelligence, confirmed its sponsorship. “Abhilash will sail in a UAE-registered sailboat aptly named ‘Bayanat’ which will race under the number 71, the year in which the UAE was formed,” the statement said.

The company said that during the race Abhilash would aid in ongoing scientific work, “including the collection of water samples which can be analysed for up to date insight on the presence of microplastics in the world’s oceans.”

In addition, a small section of the yacht will be painted with a special coating which will serve as a reflectance target for satellites, “representing a one-of-a-kind opportunity to collect calibrated data during the race”. This is in keeping with Bayanat’s business, which “provides comprehensive world-class geospatial AI solutions to a growing number of sectors such as defence, environment, energy and resources, smart cities and transportation.”

“We are all very excited to see Abhilash back in the Golden Globe,” Don McIntyre, GGR Founder, said. “He is such a powerful sailor with a huge smile. To see his beautiful yacht destroyed in the last edition was a real shock. He has a huge following around the world so his fans will be celebrating too and it’s clear he has some unfinished business!”

Rustler 36 sailing upwind. Skipper to leeward looking forward.
Abhilash has purchased a Rustler 36 in France. Pic – GGR2018

Abhilash has purchased a Rustler 36 in France, and named it Bayanat, previously raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché with PRB sponsorship. He has just five months to complete a full refit and sail a 2000 miles solo voyage to qualify for the GGR. He is the last entrant to join this incredible Human adventure that is unlike any other event in the world. This brings the total fleet to 23 sailors from 13 countries.

By GGR

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