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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Stranded Indian yachtsman Abhilash Tomy rescued

French ship Osiris reached the Golden Globe solo sailor in southern Indian Ocean

The capsized yacht Thuriya of solo sailor Abhilash Tomy is pictured at sea in this September 24, 2018 handout photo by the Indian Navy. Reuters
The capsized yacht Thuriya of solo sailor Abhilash Tomy is pictured at sea in this September 24, 2018 handout photo by the Indian Navy. Reuters

A French ship has reached an Indian solo round-the-world sailor on Monday, who was seriously injured during a storm in the remote southern Indian Ocean, according to the Indian Navy.

Abhlish Tomy, a competitor in the Golden Globe Yacht Race, was “as far from help as you can possibly be” race organisers said, when his yacht Thuriya was demasted in a storm on Friday.

The sailor sustained a severe back injury when his yacht rolled some 3,500 kilometres south-west of Perth, Western Australia, leaving him “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat".

Mr Tomy, 39, managed to send an SOS text message: “Extremely difficult to walk, Might need stretcher, can't walk, thanks safe inside the boat... Sat phone down.”

The fisheries patrol boat Osiris is responding to the call, heading 740km towards the Thuriya, Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden said.

The rescue was likely to be complex due to Mr Tomy’s injuries and damage to the yacht, Mr Gaden said.

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"It's going to be a very difficult situation onboard," Mr Gaden said. "The yacht is severely damaged with gear hanging over the side."

"We do know he's got a very severely injured back and we believe that he's very restricted in his ability to manoeuvre. We also know he's having difficulty keeping fluids down."

Conditions were reasonably good for the area with a southwesterly wind blowing up to 46 kph and a three metre swell.

"It's one of the most remote areas on the planet almost equidistant from any of the search and rescue facilities," Mr Gaden said.

The French crew of the Osiris plans to take Mr Tomy to a research facility on Amsterdam Island 100km to the north where there is a doctor and small hospital.

From there he will be picked up by an Australian navy frigate which left the Australian port of Fremantle on Saturday and is expected to reach the island by Friday, whereafter it would take Mr Tomy to Fremantle.

Another sailor in the Golden Globe Race, Irishman Gregor McGuckin, also lost his mast on Friday near Mr Tomy and would also be rescued, Mr Gaden said.

Mr Tomy, an Indian navy commander, is one of 18 competitors in the race which departed Les Sables-d’Olonne in France on July 1. The race pits solo sailors in a 48,280km non-stop circumnavigation of the world via the five southern capes.

Competitors race in retro yachts without outside assistance or modern technology other than communication equipment.

Mr Tomy was in third place when he and Mr McGuckin were overtaken by a 70 knot storm with 15 metre seas on Friday.

His latest communication received by race organisers on Sunday read: “LUGGED CANS OF ICE TEA. HAVING THAT. VOMITTING CONTINUINGLY. CHEST BURNING...”