UAE-registered boat secures 2nd place in the world's longest and most gruelling sailing race

The vessel sailed non-stop around the world in 236 days


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 5:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 7:11 PM

A UAE-registered boat has secured second place at the Golden Globe Race 2022 (GGR), one of the world’s most challenging sailing races. Helmed by former Indian Navy officer Cmdr. (Retd.) Abhilash Tomy, the boat sailed non-stop around the world in 236 days.

“I am thrilled and honoured to have accomplished such a feat,” said Tomy after finishing.

“This life-changing experience has been challenging beyond measure, but the rewards have been priceless. I hope my journey will inspire others to chase their dreams with passion and determination.”

The boat, sponsored by Abu Dhabi-based geospatial AI solutions provider Bayanat, was a Rustler 36 and carried the race number ‘71’– a tribute to the nation’s founding in 1971.

Kicking off in September at the picturesque Les Sables-d'Olonne port in France, the race had 30 sailors who had initially enrolled, but only 16 were able to make it to the starting line. In a testament to the gruelling nature of the race, only two boats were able to complete the demanding course, with a contender still in the competition.

Second time

This isn’t the first time that Abhilash has attempted this race. In 2018, the decorated officer and specialist maritime reconnaissance pilot was in 3rd position after 82 days, when his boat was damaged in a storm. He suffered a life-threatening injury with a broken spine that required months of rehabilitation.

Abhilash’s journey on the treacherous 30,000 nautical-mile race around the world was an epic saga of resilience and courage. He battled his way through fierce storms, unrelenting isolation, and months of solitude while coping with significant damage to his boat, pushing his seamanship skills to the limit.

Earlier, during the race speaking through voice notes, in line with Golden Globe Race protocol, Abhilash admitted that he missed his family terribly. “It is hard not to have news of how [my friends and family] are doing, but they're also the reason why I am continuing this journey,” he had said.

One of its kind race

Competitors depart from Les Sables-d’Olonne in France and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to their starting point. The race has unique requirements and stipulates that contenders can only use technology available in 1968 when the original race occurred.

During the original race, nine men set out to circumvent the world and only one, named Robin Knox-Johnston, finished successfully.

Bayanat has been carrying out significant scientific work during Abhilash's course to advance marine research and environmental conservation. Hasan Al Hosani, CEO of Bayanat, said the company was honoured to have been part of Abhilash's journey. “We are immensely proud of Abhilash for making it this far in the Golden Globe Race," he said.

"Abhilash has brought tremendous joy to the UAE and the Indian community. His legacy will undoubtedly inspire generations to come.”

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