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‘I love being cut off from the world’: Circumnavigator Abhilash Tomy

Solo non-stop circumnavigator Abhilash Tomy opens up

Commander Abhilash Tomy, 42, a retired Indian naval officer was the first Indian to circumnavigate non-stop the World solo without any stops in 2013.

He shared his experience with The Hindu during the National sailing championships recently. Excerpts:

What inspired you to take up the around the world solo expedition?

I was fascinated by the “Around Alone” race in which a French lady was the champion. I was very impressed and wanted to emulate her and sail alone when I grew up.

I joined the Navy sailing team and was sent to Mumbai for six months training in 2008. I was chosen as the service back-up for Dilip Doade’s solo circumnavigation and gained valuable experience in 2009-10.

Later the Navy offered me a chance to circumnavigate the world solo without stops in 2013.

Tell us about your circumnavigation experience

I undertook the expedition from Mumbai (called Sagar Parikrama 2) on November 1, 2012 and returned to the city on March 31, 2013, completing a voyage of 23,100 nautical miles without any stops.

The then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, gave a ceremonial reception at the Gateway of India on April 6, 2013. I was the first Indian, second Asian and 79th person to accomplish this feat.

Your experience competing in the 2018 Golden Globe race

I raced solo in a 10m/32 feet boat with no modern equipment for support.

It was a very challenging race. It started and ended in France. I improved my position after 10/15 days and after 82 days was in third position.

The last 15 days were the most difficult, as I experienced bad weather, storms and had a bad accident near Australia and my boat was damaged.

I had a fall and broke my spine. I was rescued in a multinational rescue effort. I was operated upon and rejoined duty after six months after passing the military medicals for flying / sailing.

In January this year, I took early retirement to prepare for the 2022 race.

Why this race again?

I love sailing. I like to be cut off from the world and it has given me more individuality. Spiritually I am involved with nature and the sea and it leads to a great feeling within me.

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