“This is almost four times more than what I carried in my last trip round the world,” says Tomy, adding that he however has been preparing for the race since 2016

NEW DELHI: Indian Navy officer, Commander Abhilash Tomy, who became the first Indian to have circumnavigated the globe in 2013 is now preparing for a bigger challenge. He will be the only Indian to participate in the Golden Globe Race that involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe from France beginning in July.

Tomy, now 39 years old, had first circumnavigated the globe in 2012-13, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat by sailing for 151 days in INS Mhadei. He had cast off from the Gateway of India at Mumbai in November 2012, sailed 23,000 nautical miles in five months and returned in March 31, 2013. This made him the first Indian and second Asian to complete a solo and non-stop circumnavigation.

The officer is now readying for his second solo circumnavigation of the globe in a non-motorised sailboat. He sailed into Les Sables d’Olonne in France a few days ago for the July 1 flag-off of the 30,000-mile Golden Globe Race. There are 18 skippers at the start line and Tomy is a special invitee at the race. 

The race is being held to commemorate 50 years since it was held for the first and last time, which saw Sir Robin Knox-Johnston successfully complete the voyage in 312 days. He then had become the first human to finish solo, non stop circumnavigation of the world. Tomy, on the other hand, aims to complete the race in 311 days, one day less than Sir Johnston’s timing.

The race will start from Les Sables d’Olonne. Skippers will go south till Cape of Good Hope, continue sailing eastward in the southern hemisphere and pass Cape of Horn to start sailing north in the Atlantic Ocean for the final leg.

The biggest challenge, however, facing not just Tomy but every participant in the race is to have equipment, tools and boat which resemble the one used by Sir Johnston, despite the change in technology.

“Navigation will have to be done looking at celestial objects using physical maps. Communication with the outside world will also be limited as the lone satellite phone is for use in medical emergency alone,” said officials.

Tomy will be sailing in the 10 metre long ‘Thuriya’, whose design is similar to Sir Johnston’s boat ‘Suhaili’, which was manufactured in Mumbai. Thuriya has been built at Goa at Ratnakar Dandekar’s Aquarius Shipyard.

Explaining the journey that awaits him, Tomy said, “At the Sagarparikrama (the first circumnavigation), I had used GPS-based maps and other satellite-based technologies. But at GGR (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 rain water, I will have to do the same. There is no help from the outside world throughout the race.”

He has planned to carry a list of essentials, from 1000 meals to tinned food, 300 litres of water, 140 litres of fuel, gas cylinders and ‘lots of books’. There is also a major emphasis on safety due to which the skippers are taking a lot of safety equipment.

“This is almost four times more than what I carried in my last trip round the world,” says Tomy, adding that he however has been preparing for the race since 2016.