AT A GLANCE / SEPTEMBER 2022

Abhilash Tomy; from the 2022 GGR (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the event and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

2022 GGR: Abhilash Tomy, now in fifth place, had a tough patch initially

Retired naval officer Abhilash Tomy, sole Indian participant in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (GGR), had a trying first few days, the event’s website reported on September 18.

He had to combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ostensibly stemming from his return to the race following the accident that halted his 2018 GGR attempt.

“ Abhilash Tomy holds 4th place and revealed during the film drop that after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne he suffered for 10 days with severe PTSD syndrome. He could not eat for those 10 days. Re-living his rescue and severe back injury inflicted during the 2018 edition of the GGR upset his ability to concentrate. This reaction surprised even himself. Now he is back into the 2022 edition with real focus and determination,’’ the update of September 18, posted on the website said. Simon Curwen (UK), Tapio Lehtinen (Finland), Pat Lawless (Ireland) and Abhilash were the first through the Marina Rubicon film gate.

According to the website of Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. During the 2018 GGR, Abhilash was caught in a severe storm in the southern Indian Ocean that left his boat, ` Thuriya,’ badly damaged. An injured Abhilash (he suffered spinal injury) was later rescued via a multinational effort, including a ship dispatched by the Indian Navy.

The 2022 GGR got underway on September 4. As of September 26 morning, the bulk of the participants were positioned off the north western coast of Africa, in the Atlantic. Abhilash, sailing a Rustler 36 sailboat christened `Bayanat,’ was in fifth position.   

Abhilash is the first Indian to circumnavigate the planet in a sailboat, solo and nonstop. He achieved that distinction in 2013, as part of the Indian Navy’s Sagar Parikrama project. Prior to Abhilash’s voyage, Dilip Donde (now a retired naval officer) had become the first Indian to do a solo circumnavigation. Sagar Parikrama was the brainchild of the late Vice Admiral Manohar Awati (Retd). For related articles please click on ` Sagar Parikrama’ under ` Category’ on this blog (it shows up on the panel to the right below the list of recent articles).

Aleksandr Sorokin (this image was downloaded from the Facebook page of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

Aleksandr Sorokin sets new 24-hour world record at IAU European Championships

Lithuanian ultrarunner Aleksandr Sorokin set a new world record in the 24-hour-run at the IAU 24 Hour European Championships 2022 held over September 17-18 at Verona, Italy.

He ran a distance of 319.614 kilometres (198.599 miles) during the stipulated 24-hour period, smashing his own previous record of 309.399 km set in August 2021.

His average pace for the 24-hour period was 4:30 per km.

In the women’s race, Patrycja Bereznowska from Poland was the winner with a distance of 256.250 km. Stephanie Gicquele from France finished second with a distance of 253.581 km and Malgorzata Pazda-Pozorska from Poland placed third with a distance of 581.806 km.

In the men’s race, Andrzej Piotrowski from Poland finished in second place with a mileage of 301.858 km and Marco Visiniti from Italy placed third place with a distance of 288.437 km.

In team positions, Poland swept both the women’s and men’s titles. Among women’s teams, France was second and Germany third. In the men’s category, Lithuania placed second and Spain, third.

Vasai-Virar Marathon returns

The tenth edition of Vasai-Virar Municipal Marathon, a popular running event, is slated to be held on December 11, 2022.

The marathon, last held in 2019, was forced to miss two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upcoming edition will see a substantial increase in prize money while registration fees remain unchanged, a press release quoting Anil Kumar Pawar, Commissioner, Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation said.

The run is recognised as a national level sports event by the Athletic Federation of India and the running course has been measured and ratified by Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).

Abhilash Tomy (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Abhilash Tomy and is being used for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.)

2022 Golden Globe Race commences in France

The 2022 edition of the Golden Globe Race got underway on September 4.

According to reports posted on the event website, 16 skippers commenced their solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the planet that day from Les Sables-d’Olonne in western France.

Among them was retired naval officer, Abhilash Tomy, the first Indian to sail solo, nonstop around the planet in 2013. He had been a participant in the 2018 edition of GGR. That attempt had concluded with his boat getting badly damaged in a severe storm in the southern Indian Ocean. An injured Abhilash was subsequently rescued.

At that time, he was sailing in the ` Thuriya,’ a replica of the ` Suhaili,’ which Sir Robin Knox Johnston had used to complete the first solo nonstop circumnavigation in 1968. The ` Suhaili’ was built in Mumbai; the ` Thuriya,’ in Goa. Following his rescue, Abhilash endured surgery and a challenging road to recovery.

For his second attempt at GGR in 2022, Abhilash is sailing a UAE-registered sailboat named ` Bayanat.’ It is racing under the number 71, the year in which the United Arab Emirates was formed. The announcement in this regard was made earlier this year, at the Dubai Expo. The boat bears the name of Abhilash’s sponsor – Bayanat, a G42 company specializing in AI-powered geospatial intelligence. Abhilash purchased the Rustler 36 (a model of yacht) in France and renamed it.  The boat was previously raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché with PRB sponsorship (he retired from the race on August 25, 2018 due to a broken wind vane and put in to Cape Town).

Prior to the start of the 2022 race on September 4, Abhilash required some repairs carried out fast. In a post titled “ The Jigsaw Puzzle” on his Facebook page, he wrote. “ We sailed into Les Sables d’Olonne on 16 Aug and were straight away lifted out of water. The boat needed a nose job after a collision at sea a day ago, and her mast too needed repairs. Given that we were just a little over two weeks from the start, it seemed like an uphill task, with quite a few wondering if we would make it across the line on 4 Sep. With all of Europe on a holiday, a solution looked virtually impossible. But we had to give it a good try.’’

Eventually the needed work was accomplished. “ Looking back, it all looks like a jigsaw puzzle. We found all the pieces and they all fit in well. It’s nothing short of a miracle. The Bayanat is now ready to sail around the world,’’ Abhilash wrote in the post, dated September 4.

As in the 2018 edition of the race, in 2022 as well, GGR participants have to sail using yachts similar to those used in the original 1968-69 race. Same goes for equipment too. They have to sail without the benefit of modern technology like satellite-based navigation systems.  As of September 9, Abhilash was placed tenth overall. On the race’s live tracker, the participants appeared bunched together off the north west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Ahead lay a long journey of several months.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)