After his daunting non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2013, young Indian Navy officer, Commander Abhilash Tomy, is ready for his second solo circumnavigation of the globe – this time in a non-motorised sailboat to mark the first such expedition carried out 50 years ago.
In 2013, Cdr. Tomy had become the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe, solo, non-stop and unassisted on the Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei, spending 151 days at sea. Then President Pranab Mukherjee had welcomed him back home at a reception at the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
The 30,000-mile Golden Globe Race (GGR) race, which begins July 1, is being held to commemorate 50 years since it was held for the first and last time, which saw Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's successfully completing the voyage in 312 days, to become the first human to finish solo, unassisted and non stop circumnavigation of the world.
For his latest expedition, Cdr. Tomy, 39, is equipped with around 1,000 meals, including MTR's ready cooked meals, freeze-dry and tinned food, two satellite phones, and lots of books.
He sailed into Les Sables d'Olonne in France in time for the July 1 flag-off. There are 18 skippers at the start line and Tomy is a special invitee at the race.
The biggest challenge at the GGR is to have equipment, tools and boat which resemble the ones used by Sir Johnston. Navigation will have to be done looking at celestial objects using physical maps. Communication with the outside world will also be limited as a lone satellite phone is for use in medical emergency alone.
From Les Sables d'Olonne, the skippers will go south till Cape of Good Hope, and continue sailing eastward in the southern hemisphere to pass the international dateline, and cross the Cape of Horn to start sailing north in the Atlantic Ocean for the final leg. Commander Tomy aims to complete the race in 311 days, one day less than Sir Johnston's timing.
The rules of GGR-18 allow only classic production boats between 32 to 36 feet to participate. Therefore, Tomy will be sailing in the 10-metre 'Thuriya', whose design is similar to Sir Johnston's boat 'Suhaili', which was incidentally manufactured in Colaba, Mumbai. "Thuriya" has been built at Goa at Ratnakar Dandekar's Aquarius Shipyard.
Before sailing out for Les Sables d'Olonne, there were a series of events held in UK's Flymouth, from where the first race was flagged, where Sir Johntson was also present.
Cdr Tomy is being supported by the Indian Navy and Aquaris Shipyard for the race, while Cdr (Retd) Dilip Donde, the first Indian to circumnavigate the world with stops, will be overseeing as the base manager.
Explaining the journey that awaits him, Cdr. Tomy said that in his 2013 expedition he had had used GPS-based maps and other satellite-based technologies. “But for the Golden Globe Race, I have to make do with a compass, printed maps, and star and planetary movements. There is a solitary HF radio set for contact. The size of the boat limits the possibility to carry water. Sir Robin had used rainwater, I will have to do the same. There is no help from the outside world throughout the race."
Besides meals and 300 litres water, the other things Cdr. Tomy is carrying with him for the expedition include, a suit of 13 sails, two sextants, two taffrail logs, two automatic watches, three trackers, lots of charts, an MF direction finder, two Short wave radio sets, lots of communication equipment, four 10 kg gas cylinders, lots of spares for the engine, and 140 litres of fuel.
With an emphasis on safety, Tomy is also carrying a lot of safety equipment – almost four times more than what he had in the earlier trip.
His status while out at sea will be continually monitored, through three-hourly position updates on the Golden Globe Race website, weekly sound bites on the GGR website, one way text messages from him posted on the GGR website and updates on his Facebook page through a media team - https://www.facebook.com/abhilashtomysailing/
He is recipient of the Kirti Chakra.