Australia joined an international mission to rescue an injured Indian sailor stranded in the Indian Ocean while competing in the round-the-world Golden Globe Race on Sunday, but the nearest boat is days away.
The mast of Abhilash Tomy’s yacht Thuriya broke off when it was rolled in a storm on Friday and the yachtsman suffered what he described as a “severe back injury”.
The 39-year-old Indian navy commander was “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat” some 3,704 kilometres off Western Australia, organisers said.
Two P8 Poseidons, one from the Royal Australian Air Force and another from the Indian armed forces, flew over the yacht to inspect it Sunday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.
AMSA, which is coordinating the search, said the crews saw that the yacht was dismasted but did not get further information about Tomy’s condition.
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A post shared by Abhilash Tommy (@abhilashtommy) on Jun 21, 2018 at 2:43pm PDT
“He is injured inside the yacht, so he can’t communicate further,” an AMSA spokesman said.
Tomy was communicating with organisers via a YB3 texting unit but his main satellite phone was damaged, and his injury meant he was unable to reach a second satellite phone or hand held VHF radio.
The yacht’s location is so remote that a French fisheries patrol vessel in the area which has been tasked by AMSA to join the rescue was only likely to reach Tomy on Monday or Tuesday.
The Australian Defence Force said on Sunday it would also assist in the rescue, with the frigate HMAS Ballarat sailing from Perth late on Saturday towards the yacht.
The Golden Globe Race involves a gruelling 48,200km non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe. The race took place in 1968 and is being hosted again to mark the 50 year anniversary. Competitors are only allowed to use boats and technology available to the sailors in the first addition, except for a couple of pieces of communication and safety equipment.
In 1968, only Robin Knox-Johnson finished. Most competitors did not make it out of the Atlantic and into the Southern Ocean. Those that did were: Bernard Moitessier, who decided to keep on sailing instead of trying to win the race and completed another half loop of the world to save his soul, as he put it.
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UPDATE FROM RACE HEADQUARTERS: Mark called the GGR office to confirm he is still in 15mtr seas and 40kts but it feels as if he is in a calm compared to what he went through. Conditions are now moderating. He was washed overboard at one point and flooded inside the boat when one wave smashed through his companionway door. He was Knocked down numerous times and has never seen conditions like it before. His HF radio is damaged and other electrical gear too. He is bruised and OK, but frustrated now that his position and the forecast winds do not make it possible for him to head toward Tomy, 230 miles to the west. GGR have advised him NOT to try, as it is too risky for him in strong headwinds.
A post shared by MARK SLATS (@markslats77) on Sep 22, 2018 at 12:29am PDT
Nigel Tetly sank and was rescued painfully close to the end of the race because he pushed his boat too hard under the impression he might be overtaken by fellow competitor Donald Crowhurst.
Crowhurst looked sure to complete the faster, if not the first, circumnavigation as all the competitors set off at different times. But his boat was mysteriously found empty. Examination of Crowhurst’s logs showed he had never left the Atlantic and had been lying about his position.
The shame of being found out upon arrival home drove him insane and he committed suicide by jumping overboard. His story has been retold in books, documentaries and a film staring Colin Firth called The Mercy.
Tomy’s own yacht is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston’s boat Suhail.
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UPDATE DICK KOOPMAMS #8 At the time I write this Mark is in a big storm and Gregor has just lost his mast after a 360-degree roll. One of Marks doubts was the early start of the race. Most skippers would have preferred a start in late Aug or Sept. General planning for boats this size and speed is to be at Cape of Good Hope mid spring and not in winter. Also now the finish is planned in Febr while the end of Apr would have been a better choice. But all skippers knew this and accepted it. And in the Long Route, the same route but not a race, skippers decide them selves when to start. The first boat has a very experienced skipper and she’s in the same storm. Because of better conditions the fleet is also ahead of schedule. Fact is that they’re in the Southern Ocean in winter with bigger changes of storms. In these conditions any boat has a change to make a 360-degree roll. Keeping a speed of around 5 knots gives boats like these the best changes to survive and lower the risks. It’s like riding a bike Too slow and you fall. Too fast and you can lose control. As long as the mast sticks less than 45 degree into the sea most of these boats will come up. In seas like this a boat with the mast right down will get these huge waves acting on the keel and will come back upright within minutes. The biggest risk is losing the mast. Some boats with less stability might benefit from some water inside the boat. This floating water will bring the boat back more easily. But 1000L water inside a boat isn’t funny. The steering can give difficulties as well. Big waves hitting the vane blade will bring the boat off course. Especially the hanged on rudder boats will get big forces from the waves on the rudder. This can damage the self-steer device. Losing the mast doesn’t mean the end of the world but certainly the end of the race. The good thing of most long keeled boats is that without the mast they will sail more or less in the same direction as the wind while the most dangerous situation is having wind and waves from aside without speed. As long as the mast has not caused damage to the hull most of these boats might be safer after losing the mast.
A post shared by MARK SLATS (@markslats77) on Sep 21, 2018 at 3:21pm PDT
Other competitors in this year’s race are also suffering after a large storm battered the fleet. Mark Slats, who set the world record for rowing solo across the Atlantic earlier this year, said his doors have been ruptured, adding his was in “survival mode”.
“[The] boat is full of water and fire on board,” Slats, Dutch, said via text message. “I can repair most, but I want to be ahead of the storm and survive.”