French boat to rescue injured Indian sailor from yacht

A French ship was expected to rescue an Indian sailor on Monday who was injured in the remote southern Indian Ocean during a round-the-world solo yacht race, an official said.

The fisheries patrol boat Osiris has been heading the 740 kilometers (460 miles) to Abhilash Tomy since his yacht Thuriya lost its mast in a storm on Friday, Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden said.

The yacht is in Australia's search and rescue zone 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) southwest of the Australian city of Perth and 3,000 kilometers southeast of the French island Reunion, Gaden said.

The rescue could be treacherous because the yacht was badly damaged and Tomy had an injured back, Gaden said.

"It's going to be a very difficult situation onboard," Gaden told reporters. "The yacht is severely damaged with gear hanging over the side."

"We do know he's got a very severely injured back and we believe that he's very restricted in his ability to maneuver. We also know he's having difficulty keeping fluids down," Gaden.

Conditions were reasonably good for the area with a southwesterly wind blowing at up 46 kph (29 mph) and a 3-meter (10-foot) swell, Gaden said.

"It's one of the most remote areas on the planet almost equidistant from any of the search and rescue facilities," Gaden said.

"At the moment, our indications are that it is upright and floating high in the water, however at any moment a wave could push one of the damaged masts into the vessel and compromise its integrity," he added.

Tomy, a 39-year-old Indian navy commander, was keeping in contact with rescue authorities through texts, but batteries on his two devices were running low, Gaden said.

The French crew plans to take Tomy to a French research facility on Amsterdam Island 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north. There is a doctor and small hospital on the island, Gaden said.

An Australian navy frigate HMAS Ballarat had left the Australian port of Fremantle on Saturday and was expected to reach Amsterdam Island on Friday, Gaden said. The Ballarat would then take Tomy to Fremantle for hospital treatment.

Another sailor in the Golden Globe Race, Irishman Gregor McGuckin, had also lost his mast on Friday near Tomy and would also be rescued, Gaden said.