Decorated Naval officer Cdr Abhilash Tomy has embarked on a new journey after his early retirement to instill confidence and love for adventure among Indian youth. He now aims to give ocean sailing experience to as many people as possible.
A former reconnaissance pilot with the Indian Navy, Cdr Tomy is today the most experienced offshore sailor in the country with upwards of 50,000 nautical miles of sailing experience. He was decorated with the Kirti Chakra, for valour and courageous action away from battle in 2013. He also won the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award the same year.
Cdr Tomy embarked on Solo Circumnavigation journey from Mumbai on the first day of November, 2012 and returned after spending 151 solitary days at sea during which time he covered 23000 nautical miles in a sailboat, sailing south of the five great capes of the Southern Hemisphere. He became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe on board his boat Mhadei – solo, non-stop and unassisted. He was received ashore at the Gateway of India by President Pranab Mukherjee on behalf of the people of India.
He was a special invitee and the only Asian entrant in the 2018 edition of the solo non stop round the world Golden Globe Race. The race forbids competitors from using any form of technology while the boats are tracked electronically for safety. After 82 days Tomy was in 3rd position when his boat was hit by a vicious storm in the South Indian ocean dismantling the boat and inflicting severe injury to his spine. His mission bagged global attention and was rescued after a dramatic multinational rescue effort.
Talking about his grit and determination to survive through the situation, Cdr Tomy says, “I refuse to label his first Golden Globe Race as a bad experience. On the contrary, the preparations, the accident and the recovery were valuable learnings.” He has announced that he will take part in the Golden Globe Race 2022.
After his retirement from the Indian Navy in 2021, Cdr Tomy who started sailing at the age of 17 is now on a mission to impart love for adventure among young Indians.
“For the first couple of weeks, you are still cutting your umbilical ties to the land, but eventually, you experience this immense freedom that only comes when you are at sea,” says Cdr Tomy, who is also a talented photographer and blogger.
He has lectured at over 100 schools, colleges, and corporations. He has spoken to over 50,000 people through seminars and has been featured in print, digital and broadcast media. His fan base in social media crosses around 10 million today.
I believe in the planet’s ability to sustain life as long as man’s needs are not overtaken by his greed. My voyage around the world was proof that man can live with much less and still be happy. I now aim at giving ocean sailing experience to as many people as possible, especially the youth, so that they can grow up and be responsible and independent citizens, says the Golden Indian boy of adventure.