The Fascinating Race That Left Indian Navy Sailor Stranded Near Australia

The participants departed Les Sables-d'Olonne, France on July 1, 2018 and the race is expected to finish in April 2019

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The Fascinating Race That Left Indian Navy Sailor Stranded Near Australia

Commander Abhilash Tomy is one of India's most prominent sailors.


New Delhi: 

The three-day international mission to rescue an Indian navy officer has ended today with Commander Abhilash Tomy's safe shift to a French vessel. Commander Tomy's vessel was hit by a vicious storm mid-way across the south Indian Ocean near Australia while taking part in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, among the toughest races on Earth. His one-man sail boat, the Thuriya, lost its mast in the storm and he suffered serious back injuries on Friday.

Here is what you need to know about this daunting race:

The Golden Globe Race

British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone in 1969 onboard the Indian-built boat, Suhaili. To mark the 50th anniversary of the world's first solo non-stop circumnavigation in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race, a new Golden Globe Race was conceived.

The 2018 version keeps to both the rules and the spirit of its predecessor. It is a non-stop solo round the world race that begins on the French coast before heading through the Atlantic and then east, passing through the five Great Capes of the Southern Hemisphere. The racers will return to France around 300 days and 30,000 miles later.

The participants departed Les Sables-d'Olonne, France on July 1, 2018 and the race is expected to finish in April 2019.

Participants are sailing similar yachts and equipment that was available to Sir Robin in the first race. They had to pick boats designed before 1988 that have a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts are heavily built, strong and sturdy, similar in concept to Sir Robin's 32ft vessel Suhaili.

Suhaili was a slow, sturdy 32ft double-ended boat made of teak. Sir Robin completed the challenge with no outside assistance or aid of shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph. Commander Abhilash Tomy sailed Thuriya, a replica of Suhaili.

The Eligibility

The participants were expected to have sailed at least 8,000 miles and another 2,000 miles solo, in any boat, by March 1, 2018 to enter the race. The entry to the race was by invitation only, for sailors aged 18 years and older at the start on June 16, 2018.

The non-stop race doesn't allow any stopover, or breaking of the seal on their portable GPS chart plotter. Any participant making two stops is disqualified. Entries were limited to 25 participants.

The challenge

Each entrant was provided a standard Race Pack by the organisers. It had a stand-alone satellite tracking system (the skippers cannot see) for web tracking updates.

A two-way satellite short text paging unit (to race headquarters only) for 100-character text reports twice a day. Two hand-held satellite phones (for important calls to the race headquarters only) for once-a-week safety check and a sealed box with a portable GPS chart plotter (for emergency use only)

All Entrants are being tracked 24/7 by satellite, but competitors will not be able to access this information unless an emergency arises and they break open their sealed safety box containing a GPS and satellite phone. Doing this, however, would mean that the competitors have retired from the Golden Globe Race.

Sponsorship was allowed. All competitors had to carry at least 5 million pounds of Public Liability insurance while in UK waters and during the race.

On route, the sailors will stop at just two 'Rendezvous Gates' - here they can talk to family and friends from the boat, but they are not allowed to set foot ashore or ask about any form of weather routing.

The official prize giving and dinner will be held on April 22, 2019, 50 years to the day that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston completed his voyage.

Commander Abhilash Tomy is one of India's most prominent sailors. He has covered 53,000 nautical miles under sail, including a solo non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in 2012-13 onboard Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei. He is also a recipient of the Kirti Chakra, Mac Gregor and Tenzing Norgay awards.



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