Keralite naval officer Abhilash Tomy is on his second circumnavigation of the Earth, but it is tougher this time as he is participating in the Golden Globe Race (GGR). The challenge is infamous for knocking out all but one of its participants before they could reach the finishing point in 1968.
Tomy has been injured after his yacht was hit by a vicious storm mid way across the South Indian Ocean Friday night.
In March 1968, The Sunday Times announced the first GGR – a race to sail solo, non-stop around the world. There were no rules and no minimum qualification required. Nine adventurous young men with varying degrees of sailing skills came to be the participants. Only Robin Knox Johnston and yacht Suhaili could complete the race. The others either sank, retired or committed suicide.
The 2018 version of the GGR is aimed at recreating the daring journey of Johnston. The participants will have to sail through the five Great Capes and return to starting point at Les Sables-d'Olonne. The sailing will be without modern technology and satellite-based navigation. Instead, they will be armed with sextants, paper charts and will need to hand write their logs. Communication with family and loved once will be allowed only occasionally. The racers are expected to spend around 300 days at sea. As the organisers put it, the race is not just about speed, 'the challenge is pure and very raw, placing adventure ahead of winning at all costs.'
In fact, Abhilash Tomy's boat, Thuriya, itself is a replica of the original Suhaili. Though at least four other participants tried to recreate it, only Tomy succeeded.
The toughest part of the race will be to keep oneself psychologically fit. Hallucinations and mental breakdowns are common place among solo sailors. Johnston himself once compared solo sailing with prison life. “It's 10-months solitary confinement with hard labour,” he said.