Mysore/Mysuru: Commander Abhilash Tomy (retd.), who made history as the first Indian to successfully complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe, shared his remarkable adventure at the Seventh Edition of the Mysuru Literature Festival, which concluded at Hotel Southern Star last evening.
Speaking about the challenges of sailing solo around the world, Commander Tomy highlighted the immense physical and mental fitness required for such a feat. Navigating through rough seas, battling solitude and facing the uncertainties of life at sea far from civilization, he emphasised the courage, determination, and grit necessary to cross the three Capes — Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn, and Cape of Good Hope — alone.
Recalling the injury, he sustained during the 2018 Golden Globe Race (GGR), Abhilash Tomy mentioned that he suffered a severe back injury when the mast of his boat, ‘Thuriya,’ broke in extremely harsh weather and sea conditions. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, it took three days and a collaborative effort from the navies of India, Australia, and France to rescue him. Prior to the incident, he was in the third position among 11 international participants in the race.
Describing the harrowing experience, Commander Tomy recounted being thrown off the boat and clinging to the top of the mast amidst 15-metre-high waves. Ultimately, he fell from the 9-metre mast onto the boom, resulting in a severe back injury.
After enduring three and a half days in challenging circumstances, he was rescued and transferred to an Indian Navy vessel. Upon returning to India, he underwent surgery, during which titanium rods were inserted in his spine, fusing five vertebrae into one. He had to re-learn walking, sailing and flying. Despite leaving the navy, he decided to participate in the world’s toughest maritime race once again.
Abhilash Tomy shared that he took premature retirement from the Indian Navy in January 2021 to prepare for the 2022 Golden Globe Race. Carrying a titanium rod in his spine due to previous injuries, he finished second in the race and became the first Asian to achieve this feat. His non-stop journey began on September 4, 2022, from Les Sables-d’Olonne in France and concluded on April 29, 2023, after sailing for 236 days.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Abhilash Tomy has received several awards, including the Kirti Chakra in 2013 and the Nau Sena Medal in 2019.