Les Sables-d’Olonne (France): Malayali sailor Abhilash Tomy’s boat ‘Bayanat’ has maintained its second position in the Golden Globe Race (GGR) as the daunting race entered its final stretch.
Abhilash has kept the GGR tight and interesting as he has been able to close the gap with Kirsten Neuschafer, the woman sailor from South Africa who leads the race, with each passing day. The race, which began at Les Sables d’Olonne, a seaside town in Western France on the Atlantic Ocean, will end at the same spot.
Abhilash now needs to cover a distance of 5,638 nautical miles (approximately 10,148 kilometres) to reach the finishing line. The South African is ahead of Abhilash by 381 nautical miles (around 685 kilometres).
Of the 16 entrants who departed five months ago, only four are still in the race. The third-placed Austrian Michael Guggenberger crossed the hazardous Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego archipelago in Chile, the other day.
“The weather in the South Atlantic Ocean is highly unpredictable. I had to deal with some almost windless areas and that was quite difficult. It has been a mess with unstable winds and difficult predictions for the sailors. I’m not bothered about such external factors as I’m fully concentrating on the job at hand,” Abhilash said in a satellite phone message during the enormously challenging solo and non-stop circumnavigation race that nearly left him paralysed in 2018.
Before he sailed around the Cape Horn, known as the ‘Everest of the Sailors’, battling bustling winds and giant waves, Abhilash’s yacht ‘Bayanat’ had to endure two knockdowns by rogue waves, requiring constant maintenance.
“My generator got damaged in the knockdown. The windvane steering on the back of the yacht that gives an indication of the current apparent wind direction was also ruined. As I did not have a spare windvane, I used a piece of log to ascertain the wind direction. The water storage tank was also contaminated in the knockdown. As I cannot afford to waste the remaining water, I’m using it judiciously. Although I collected about 20 litres of rainwater a couple of days ago, I still use the seawater for cooking and all,” the former Indian Navy officer said.
The 30,000-mile GGR, which began on September 4, 2022, completed 177 days on Wednesday. Abhilash had first circumnavigated the globe in 2012-13, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat by sailing for 151 days on the INS Mhadei as part of the Indian Navy’s Sagarparikrama expedition.
“The Bayanat, which is a Rustler 36, is smaller compared to the INS Mhadei. The participants of the GGR are allowed to use only the technologies that were available to sailors till the year 1968 as the race is being held to commemorate 50 years since it was held for the first and last time. Every participant in the GGR is to have equipment, tools and boat which resemble the one used in 1968. I’m hoping to complete the race by mid-April,” said Abhilash.