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2K Miles Off Australia, Dramatic Rescue of an Elite Sailor

A severely injured Abhilash Tomy found after yacht dismasted during round-the-world race
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2018 7:27 AM CDT
In this photo provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Monday, the distressed yacht, Thuriya, with Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy on board, floats in the southern Indian Ocean.   (AMSA via AP)
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(Newser) – "He is conscious, and he is safe." With those words, an Indian navy rep revealed the status of sailor Abhilash Tomy, who'd placed an emergency call from his yacht during a bid to make it around the world in the Golden Globe Race. Per NPR, Tomy's vessel became dismasted Friday during a storm in the Indian Ocean; with his satellite phone broken, Tomy sent a message from a texting unit noting his back was seriously hurt and that he was initially immobilized. "Lugged cans of ice tea. Having that. Vomiting continuously. Chest burning," was a subsequent message the 39-year-old Indian navy commander sent Sunday, per the BBC. Race organizers soon became concerned after Tomy stopped replying to their messages, CNN notes. Rescuers from different nations rushed to get to him, with a French fishing vessel finding him first, drifting about 2,000 miles off the coast of Western Australia.

The Golden Globe, which kicked off in France on July 1, is a 30,000-mile circumnavigation, with competitors eschewing all modern tech (e.g., GPS), save for satellite communications. Of the 18 sailors who started the race, just 11 are still in it, per the BBC (NPR says 10). Tomy's 36-foot yacht, the Thuriya, is a reproduction of the Suhaili, which won the first Golden Globe 50 years ago with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at the helm. Knox-Johnston tweeted his own worries for Tomy on Sunday, writing: "Very concerned about @abhilashtomy's injuries and will be glad when assistance can reach him." In a statement, race organizers praised Tomy's decision to drop out of the race as a "responsible" one, noting his engine and self-steering gear had been rendered useless when the yacht capsized and that "the alternative would have been to continue sailing singlehanded" and risk getting caught in another storm. (Read more rescue stories.)

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