Tomy becomes first Indian to make nonstop circumnavigation

Mumbai, April 6 (IANS) The Indian Navy’s Lt. Cdr. Abhilash Tomy Saturday became the first Indian to circumnavigate the earth in a sailboat – solo, nonstop and unassisted.

Tomy, a maritime reconnaissance pilot, arrived at the historic Gateway of India, to a rousing reception by school children and was a accorded a ceremonial welcome by President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the supreme commander of Indian armed forces.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, and Western Naval Command chief, Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha were also present to receive Tomy.

Tomy had set sail out of Mumbai on Nov 1, 2012 in the sail boat INSV Mhadei to undertake a voyage no Indian had attempted before.

He said his voyage was a fulfilment of a 14-year-old dream and four years of hard preparation. He thanked his mentors Vice Admiral (retd.) M.P. Awati and Cdr. Dilip Donde and also the builders of INSV Mhadei – Ratnakar Dandekar of Goa.

In 2009, Donde had also set to voyage around the earth in the same sailboat and had finished his circumnavigation in 276 days, but with four stops. Tomy’s voyage had no stops.

Congratulating Tomy on his achievement, Mukherjee said it will be a source of inspiration for future generations of young seafarers.

“His epic voyage has placed our nation into the ranks of few select countries, whose citizens have been successful in braving such arduous voyage,” he said.

“Battling wave heights of 9-10 metres and wind speeds in excess of 100 kmph can be an extreme test of endurance. The solitude factor alone is such that being thousands of kms away from the nearest land, with very little chance of help coming by if something went wrong, requires courage, determination and grit of the highest order,” he added.

Tomy’s voyage under the aegis of “Sagar Parikrima II” was of approx 22,000 nautical miles, crossing the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by using sails and the power of the wind, without touching any port and without any outside assistance.

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