Sailor injured during solo race rescued from Indian Ocean after reportedly surviving on iced tea

A sailor who sustained a crippling back injury during a round-the-world solo yacht race in the remote southern Indian Ocean was rescued Monday after reportedly surviving for three days on iced tea.

The Indian Navy said that 39-year-old Abhilash Tomy hurt his back and was unable to move after his yacht lost both its masts during a storm on Friday as he was competing in the Golden Globe Race.

Tomy, an Indian naval officer, was in third out of 18 participants before the severe storm hit, and survived on cans of iced tea that were nearby, Sky News reported.

A spokesman with the Indian Navy told Sky News that the 39-year-old is "conscious" and "can talk."

"He's been injured but he's in safe hands," Capt. D.K. Sharma said. "He's been moved on a stretcher to the French fishing vessel Osiris."

Tomy had first issued a code red alert from his boat on Friday which said: "ROLLED. DISMASTED. SEVERE BACK INJURY. CANNOT GET UP."

This photo provided by Indian Navy shows the yacht Thuriya of Indian Abhilash Tomy in the Indian Ocean Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.

This photo provided by Indian Navy shows the yacht Thuriya of Indian Abhilash Tomy in the Indian Ocean Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Indian Navy)

He was then able to communicate by texting on a satellite phone that only had a battery life of a few days, Sky News reported. Organizers of the 30,000-mile race said the stricken sailor was "as far from help as you could possibly be."


Tomy, one of India's top sailors, was invited to do the Golden Globe by British sailor Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first person to sail single-handed, unassisted and non-stop around the world, according to Sky News.

The 39-year-old took part in a non-stop sailing race around the world in 2012, and received awards for his efforts.

The yacht, which was "severely damaged with gear hanging over the side," was located in Australia's search and rescue zone 2,200 miles southwest of the Australian city of Perth, Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden said during a news conference.

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

India's defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, tweeted that it was "a sense of relief to know that naval officer" Abhilash Tomy was "rescued by the French fishing vessel. He's conscious and doing okay."

She said the ship would shift Tomy to a nearby island by evening and that later Indian navy's frigate "will take him to Mauritius for medical attention."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.