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Irish sailor safe after yacht damaged during Golden Globe Race
Gregor McGuckin is en route to help an Indian sailor who has a “severe back injury” and can’t walk.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 23rd 2018, 3:45 PM

g Golden Globe Race / YouTube Gregor McGuckin, Golden Globe Race / YouTube / YouTube

AUSTRALIA HAS JOINED an international mission to rescue an injured Indian sailor stranded in the Indian Ocean while competing in the round-the-world Golden Globe Race.

The mast of Abhilash Tomy’s yacht Thuriya broke off when it was rolled in a storm on Friday and the yachtsman suffered what he described as a “severe back injury”.

“Extremely difficult to walk, might need stretcher, can’t walk, thanks safe inside the boat,” was the latest update to race organisers.

The 39-year-old Indian navy commander was “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat” some 3,704 kilometres off Western Australia state, organisers said.

Tomy Golden Globe Race Abhilash Tomy Golden Globe Race

An Irish competitor, Gregor McGuckin, was dismasted in the same storm. He is en route to Tomy’s location. 

In a statement released this afternoon, Team Ireland said McGuckin is “safe and making his way towards Abhilash Tomy’s position”. 

“We are in regular contact with Gregor and the race management and Gregor is speaking to the rescue coordination body. 

Our priority is the safety of the two skippers and we will issue a statement in due course.

“…the Irishman is battened down waiting for the storm to recede,” an update on Friday  said.

Gregor reported earlier that his yacht is a mess below, but providing his diesel supplies have not been contaminated, has sufficient fuel to motor towards Tomy‘s position if conditions allow.

In an update given yesterday, McGuckin said that he was making repairs to the boat. 

Regardless, Gregor is making best time to Tomy under the circumstances and estimates that he could reach Thuriya’s position between 18.00 and 24.00 UTC on Sunday. Race organisers are providing him with regular range and bearing details.

Golden Globe Race Official / YouTube

Rescue attempts

Two P8 Poseidons – one from the Royal Australian Air Force and another from the Indian armed forces – flew over the yacht to inspect Tomy’s yacht this morning, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

AMSA, which is coordinating the search, said the crews saw that the yacht was dismasted but did not get further information about Tomy’s condition.

“He is injured inside the yacht, so he can’t communicate further,” an AMSA spokesman told AFP.

Tomy was communicating with organisers via a YB3 texting unit but his main satellite phone was damaged, and his injury meant he was unable to reach a second satellite phone and handheld VHF radio.

The yacht’s location is so remote that a French fisheries patrol vessel in the area which has been tasked by AMSA to join the rescue was only likely to reach Tomy tomorrow or Tuesday.

Golden Globe Golden Globe Race Golden Globe Race

The Australian Defence Force said it would also assist in the rescue, with the frigate HMAS Ballarat sailing from Perth late last night towards the yacht.

The Golden Globe Race involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used in the first race 50 years ago, with no modern technology allowed except the communications equipment.

Tomy’s own yacht is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhail, winner of the first Golden Globe Race.

© – AFP, 2018, with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha and Órla Ryan

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