This photo of Bayanat (Abhilash Tomy’s boat for the 2022 GGR), taken near Tasmania, was downloaded from the website of GGR and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

2022 GGR / Abhilash Tomy moves up to second position

Indian sailor, Abhilash Tomy, earlier in third place in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (GGR) has improved his position to second. As of January 21, 2023, the live tracker available on the website of the race showed him in second position in the southern latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. The race leader continued to be Simon Curwen of the UK; he was leading by a considerable margin. Kirsten Neuschafer of South Africa, previously in second place had slipped to third. However, given she had diverted from her course in the Indian Ocean to rescue Finnish participant Tapio Lehtinen – his boat sank suddenly – Kirsten has some adjustment in time to her credit. Thanks to this 35 hour-compensation, she had even briefly led the race (in technical terms). So, it couldn’t be known for sure how telling the physical alteration at sea between the second and third positions is, as regards current ranking in the race. On Abhilash, GGR’s update of January 20, said, “ He seems constantly faster in certain wind wave combinations and talks of a secret sail combination to give an edge. One thing is certain, he is back racing and knows Simon has a long way to go. It is never over till the fat lady sings.’’  For the rescue at sea, Kirsten was awarded Cruising Club of America’s ` Rod Stephen’s Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship.’ Updates on the GGR website showed availability of drinking water becoming a potential problem for some of the participants including Abhilash. GGR entails doing a solo nonstop circumnavigation of the planet in a sailboat. Technology levels aboard have been pegged to what prevailed in 1968-1969, the year of the first GGR. The 2022 GGR commenced in Les Sables-d’Olonne in France, in September. At the time of writing, the race leaders were in the Pacific (having gone through the Atlantic and Indian oceans) and headed towards Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.

2022 GGR / Abhilash Tomy in third place as lead pack nears New Zealand

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

Indian sailor, Abhilash Tomy, who is a participant in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (GGR), continues to be in the lead pack. On December 31, 2022, the live tracker showed him placed third overall, a position he has been maintaining for a while now. Simon Curwen of the UK was placed first, followed by Kirsten Neuschafer of South Africa. Unlike before, the distances between the trio had reduced considerably. All three boats were sailing in the waters between Tasmania and southern New Zealand.

Earlier, in an interview he gave the race organizers at Hobart Gate (a check point in the race), Abhilash said that he was relieved to cross the point in the southern Indian Ocean where he had suffered an accident during the 2018 edition of the race. That time, his boat was dismasted and an injured Abhilash had to be rescued. “ When I crossed that point where I had the accident, I felt light and that was a very physical experience. I felt something leave me,’’ he said. According to him, from the start of the race till that point, he had been tense. But things changed once he crossed the critical point. A visibly relaxed and happy Abhilash also told the GGR organizers at Hobart Gate that he had noticed much change in the Southern Ocean since passing through these parts ten years ago during his first solo, nonstop circumnavigation. There was plastic trash in the ocean and there appeared to be changes in the distribution of fish species. “ I saw a flying fish at 41 degrees south,’’ he said, adding that it pointed to warm currents real down south.

The lead pack including Abhilash, now head to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and Cape Horn beyond. The 2022 GGR, which features a solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the planet in a sailboat, commenced from Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast in the first week of September.

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