Above the clouds, things move a hundred times faster than on the water. Pilot and sailor Abhilash Tomy can handle both. You just have to adjust your mindset. In the cockpit of an aeroplane you plan at six miles per minute, in the cockpit of a sailboat at six miles per hour. Both are dangerous. The Grim Reaper can just as easily come at you at a slow crawl, as Abhilash Tomy recaps in conversation with float.
Tomy was confronted with lethal threat in the last Golden Globe Race in October 2018. In the southern latitudes, a storm caused his yacht Thuriya to capsize. In the process, Tomy injured himself so severely below deck that he could no longer move his legs. Thanks to activated Epirb, he was rescued after three days.
India at the tiller
His ship was ruined, but the dream of the Golden Globe Race was not. The Navy officer owes himself a second try – and his country. Sailing in India was reserved for the military until the 1990s. Abhilash Tomy could take up sailing in the mid-1990s only thanks to his officer career as a reconnaissance pilot.
The Thuriya still in full swing © GGR
As a sailor, he rendered great service to India. In 2013, he became the first Indian solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe non-stop on the Navy yacht Mhadei. He vigorously pushed the newly burgeoning private sailing sport with this exceptional achievement. Tomy sees himself as an ambassador for a sport that, along with boxing, hockey or badminton, is becoming increasingly important on the subcontinent.
Officer Abhilash Tomy in front of the Mhadei © A. Tomy
Around 40 boats are now participating in the national championship in the Laser class. Four Indian sailors competed in the 2021 Olympics, a first for the country.
Sun instead of Satellite
Tomy feels more comfortable navigating with a sextant than with GPS. So what could be more natural for him than to take part in a regatta held on terms set 25 years before GPS was unlocked?