Golden Globe yachtsman rescued thousands of miles off Australia after back injury

Agence France-Presse
India's skipper Abhilash Tomy poses on his boat

A solo Indian yachtsman trapped in his bunk by a serious back injury thousands of miles from land was rescued Monday, an Indian navy official said.

Abhilash Tomy, a competitor in the Golden Globe round-the-world race, was badly injured when his vessel was damaged in a storm on Friday 2,200 miles from western Australia.

Race organisers said the 39-year-old Indian navy commander had been "incapacitated on his bunk".

An international rescue mission involving the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), a French fisheries patrol vessel and the Indian Navy had been trying to rescue the sailor.

They declared success on Monday.

The capsized yacht Thuriya Credit:  REUTERS

"Tomy rescued safely," tweeted an Indian navy spokesman.

Rescuers had been unable to make direct contact with Tomy as his main satellite phone was damaged, and his injury meant he was unable to reach a second satellite phone or his handheld VHF radio.

Two P8 Poseidons - one from the Royal Australian Air Force and another from the Indian Armed Forces - flew over the yacht Sunday.

India's Abhilash Tomy gestures on his boat "Thuriya" as he sets off from Les Sables d'Olonne Harbour on July 1 Credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP

Fears had been growing for Tomy's safety as conditions in the isolated region can be treacherous, with strong winds and high waves buffeting the yacht and rescue vessels.

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 Suhaili, winner of the first Golden Globe Race.