Kochi: The Indian Navy said all efforts are on to reach top sailor Commander Abhilash Tomy with assistance, after his boat, Thuriya, was hit and overturned by a massive storm.
“We are on the job. All out efforts are being made to rescue Abhilash Tomy. Stealth frigate INS Satpura with a Chetak helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti, operating in the Indian Ocean, have been dispatched for the rescue mission,” a naval official said.
Tomy has been maintaining third spot in the Golden Globe Race (#GGR2018) and the incident happened on Friday, the 82nd day of the race, dismasting his boat Thuriya and injuring his back. The race had started on July 1.
Indian Navy said Commander Tomy is in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles (NM) from Perth, Australia.
“His position was 2,800 NM south of India, when the incident happened. We are happy that he has switched on his EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). The SAR (Search and Rescue) is in Australian waters and they have been alerted,” a senior Navy official told Onmanorama.
Australia is sending two aircraft in search of Commander Tomy, despite bad weather.
As per the Navy, the Australian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) at Canberra is in link-up with the Australian Defence Department and Indian Navy on SAR mission.
Indian Navy said efforts are on to track Tomy and reach help to him.
Commander Tomy was hit by bad weather and sea condition, with wind speeds of 130 kmph and 10 metre high waves.
“We are also planning to send a P-8I long-range, maritime patrol aircraft via Malaysia. Weather has to abate first. There is no danger and we suspect it could be stiff back,” the official said.
He said a French trawler vessel, 300 NM off Commander Tomy’s position, is also being directed towards him.
The GGR-208 organisers say the storm across the South Indian Ocean with 70 knot winds and 14 m seas left Cdr Tomy and Ireland's Gregor McGuckin’s dismasted.
The yacht of Dutchman Mark Slats, who was in 2nd position in the race, was knocked down twice. Both McGuchin and Slats are reported to be out of danger.
The MRCC in Canberra is expected to issue updates once they receive official confirmation of the air sea rescue assets available.
In the meantime, the managers of Commander Tomy’s social media team thanked his well-wishers for their support and prayers.
“Thank you for your support and concern in these trying times. Abhilash has sustained some serious back injuries, however he says he's safe inside the boat. Indian Navy is doing their best as they always have. His tracker is working. He has activated the EPIRB. Help is on its way,” said a tweet from his handle @abhilashtomy.
Speaking to Onmanorama the sailor’s father Lt Cdr Valliara Chacko Tomy (Retd), 66, said they have been tracking the developments since Friday night.
“We came to know about the incident at 7.30 pm on Friday. The last message we received said: ‘Safe inside the boat.’ We have been flooded with calls from friends and relatives,” Cdr Chacko (Retd) said.
It is unlikely that Commander Tomy could take part in the race further, with the rules disqualifying the sailors, if they seek any external help during the course.