Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy has re-entered the 2022 Golden Globe Race following extensive rehabilitation from injuries sustained during the 2018 edition of the round-the-world solo sailing challenge.

Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy was an entrant in the 50th anniversary edition of the Golden Globe, a solo non-stop race around the world which started from Les Sables d’Olonne France on July 1st 2018.

He was rescued after 83 days at sea following a complex international effort.

The winner of the first 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe was Englishman Sir Robin Knox Johnston sailing a 32ft timber yacht built in India named Suhaili.

He became the first person ever to solo circumnavigate the globe non-stop after 312 days.

Abhilash Tomy with Sir Robin Knox Johnston aboard Thuriya

Abhilash Tomy with Sir Robin Knox Johnston aboard Thuriya. Credit: GGR2018

Abhilash was sailing an exact replica of Suhaili, named Thuriya, also built in India.

Abhilash, a Navy commander who had previously sailed solo non-stop around the world was running third in the race when an extreme storm deep in the Southern Indian Ocean rolled and dismasted his yacht, severely injuring his back and unable to move his legs.

Trapped below, he sent a short text message to race control and turned his EPIRB on.

Then all communication was lost.

Abhilash Tomy

Abhilash Tomy is back in the race. Credit: GGR2018

Complex rescue

Half way between Australia and South Africa, the disabled yacht was as far from rescue as anyone could be.

Three and a half days later, a French Government fisheries patrol vessel Osiris arrived at the scene.

In difficult conditions the crew were able to recover Abhilash in a stretcher.

He was later transferred to an Indian Navy vessel sent to recover him and two days after arriving in India titanium rods were inserted in his spine and five vertebrae were fused into one.

“My legs were so badly off that I had to learn to walk again”, said Abhilash.

“But I did learn to walk, and then got into a cockpit and got back to Navy flying, and sailing!

“Now three and a half years later, I am heading back into the same race.”

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Abhilash Tomy's former yacht Thuriya

Abhilash Tomy’s former yacht Thuriya. Credit: GGR2018

2022 challenge

Abhilash will sail in Rustler 36 named Bayanat, which was previously raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché, with PRB sponsorship.

Today at the Dubai Expo 2020, Abhilash announced his official entry in the 2022 Golden Globe Race in his UAE-registered boat, which will race under the number 71, the year in which the UAE was formed.

His sponsor is Bayanat, a G42 company specializing in AI-powered geospatial intelligence, and during the race Abhilash will aid in ongoing scientific work, “including the collection of water samples which can be analysed for up to date insight on the presence of microplastics in the world’s oceans”.

In addition, a small section of the yacht will be painted with a special coating which will serve as a reflectance target for satellites, “representing a one-of-a-kind opportunity to collect calibrated data during the race”.

The Rustler 36, previously called PRB and raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché

Abhilash has purchased a Rustler 36, previously called PRB and raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché

“We are all very excited to see Abhilash back in the Golden Globe,” said Don McIntyre GGR Founder.

“He is such a powerful sailor with a huge smile.

“To see his beautiful yacht destroyed in the last edition was a real shock.

“He has a huge following around the world so his fans will be celebrating too and it’s clear he has some unfinished business!”

Abhilash has just five months to complete a full refit and sail a 2,000 miles solo voyage to qualify for the GGR.

He is the last entrant to join and brings the total fleet to 23 sailors from 13 countries.