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French boat rescues injured Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy from yacht

‘He has been pulled out on a stretcher by a French fishing vessel. He is conscious and is in safe hands…’

Abhilash Tomy’s damaged yacht Thuriya in the Indian Ocean.

CANBERRA, Australia: A French ship on Monday rescued an Indian sailor who was injured in the remote southern Indian Ocean during a round-the-world solo yacht race, Indian officials said.

India’s defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, tweeted that it was “a sense of relief to know that naval officer “Abhilash Tomy was rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay.” She said the ship would shift Tomy to a nearby island by evening and that later Indian navy’s frigate “will take him to Mauritius for medical attention.”

Indian navy spokesman Captain D K Sharma said the 39-year-old Tomy was sailing his boat for a solo sailboat race around the world called the Golden Globe Race.

“He has been pulled out on a stretcher by a French fishing vessel. He is conscious and is in safe hands,” Sharma said.

The distressed yacht, Thuriya, with Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy on board, floats in the southern Indian Ocean. AP

Australian officials earlier said the French fisheries patrol boat Osiris headed the 740 kilometers to Tomy after his yacht, Thuriya, lost its mast in a storm on Friday.

The yacht was in Australia’s search and rescue zone 3,500 kilometers southwest of the Australian city of Perth and 3,000 kilometers southeast of the French island of Reunion, said Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden.

He said Tomy had an injured back.

“It’s going to be a very difficult situation onboard,” Gaden told reporters. “The yacht is severely damaged with gear hanging over the side.”

“We do know he’s got a very severely injured back and we believe that he’s very restricted in his ability to maneuver. We also know he’s having difficulty keeping fluids down,” Gaden said.

Tomy, an Indian navy commander, had been keeping in contact with rescue authorities through texts, but batteries on his two devices were running low, Gaden said.

Another sailor in the Golden Globe Race, Irishman Gregor McGuckin, also lost his mast on Friday near Tomy and will also be rescued, Gaden said.

Who is Abhilash Tomy

Tomy was sailing his boat for a solo sailboat race around the world. Facebook

Abhilash Tomy, born in Chethipuzha in Kerala, is a reconnaissance pilot in the Indian Navy.

Commissioned in the Navy in 2000, he has sailed more than 52,000 nautical miles in his 18-year career.

In March 2013, he became the first Indian and seventy-ninth person to complete a solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation under sail in the Sagar Parikrama II project.

Setting sail on the custom-built Indian Navy vessel INSV Mhadei, Tomy embarked on his first circumnavigation mission in November 2012.

He covered 23,000 nautical miles and sailed for 151 days during the mission.

Tomy received the Kirti Chakra in 2013, which is the second highest peacetime gallantry award in India for his solo circumnavigation trip.

He is also a recipient of the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award.

He was also awarded the MacGregor Medal in 2013, which is awarded to Indian Armed Forces personnel for valuable military reconnaissance.

He has represented India in several international events including the Cape Town to Rio Yacht Race, the Spanish Copa del Rey and the Korea Cup.

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