39-year-old Commander Abhilash Tomy is known as the first Indian person to complete a non-stop circumnavigation in a sailboat. However, he’s currently in danger. According to the Independent, the sailor suffered a back injury while fighting a severe storm during his competition in the Golden Globe Race.
A storm rolled his boat, snapping his mast in the process. It also left him incapacitated from a severe back injury, which has confined him to his bunker within the boat. While he was able to send out a text message via his handheld satellite phone, but one of the two main phones on his ship were damaged during the storm. He is unable to reach the second one due to his injuries.
As reported by CNN, his messages were concise yet harrowing.
“Rolled. Dismasted. Severe back injury. Cannot get up. […] Activated [Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon]. Can’t walk. Might need stretcher. […] Can move toes. Feel numb. Can’t eat or drink. Tough to reach grab bag.”
Before the storm struck, Tomy was warned by officials and decided to hang back.
“There’s nothing there you can’t handle,” an official said to Tomy regarding the storm, “but we just wanted to tell you about this one.”
Unfortunately, this was not the case — and while Tomy is reportedly alive, he is still on the water. A rescue operation is underway, but the closest vessel will only be able to reach him on Monday or Tuesday. Luckily, they have located his boat and have flown over it, and the Golden Globe Race has since posted pictures of his stricken vessel.
Early Sunday, Tomy’s communication devices died. However, he was able to affirmatively signal that he heard the aircrafts by switching the radio beacon on and off.
Irish Skipper Gregor McGuckin was also a victim of the storm, but he rigged up a combination of wind and engine power to get moving again. He reportedly heard about Tomy’s situation, and has been trying to make his way over to his fellow competitor. At the same time, Uku Randmaa, an Estonian sailor, is also trying to offer assistance.
Currently, a French fisheries vessel is en-route to reach Tomy first. They have medical facilities on board, so they are hopeful that they will be able to help give Tomy the attention that he needs. If the French vessel is delayed, McGuckin is expected to reach Tomy by Monday. Regardless of who arrives first, Tomy will likely appreciate a friendly face.