Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy deserves congratutations for his outstanding feat of being the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe non-stop. This has been an outstanding adventure, which he has completed solo, non-stop and unassisted in 150 days of continuous sailing in sailboat INSV Mhadei. On completing his voyage, Abhilash became the first Indian, second Asian and 79th sailor globally to complete such a voyage. Tomy had started his journey from Mumbai on 1 November, 2012, and returned to the same city on 31 March 2013. Earlier, in 2009, Commander Dilip Donde had also voyaged around the Earth in the same sailboat and had finished his circumnavigation in 276 days, but with four stops. Tomy’s voyage had no stops, which makes it distinctive and an achievement of a higher order. Tomy’s voyage was of approximately 22,000 nautical miles, crossing the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by using sails and the power of the wind, without touching any port and without any outside assistance. In his journey he had to battle wave heights of 9-10 metres and wind speeds in excess of 100 kmph, which makes it a test of extreme endurance and skill as a sailor. Being alone thousands of kilometres away from land means there is little chance of help coming if anything goes wrong.
The lure of the sea has always been powerful the world over. Ever since the first recorded circumnavigation of the world in 1522 by the members of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition, on their way to find a route to the Spice Islands, many have drawn to the adventure of the circling of the globe in a sailboat. However, Joshua Slocum of the United States was the first man to sail single-handedly around the world in 1895. He recorded his adventures in an international bestseller Sailing Alone Around the World. Since his attempt there have been many imitators and the feat has been recorded many times. Indians, too, have always been a seafaring people a fact not always acknowledged by Indian history which focuses more on the achievements of the large land empires. Trade across the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal carried many Indians to faraway places where many of them settled down. Unfortunately, the individual achievements of the seafarers is hardly recorded. With feats such as that of Tomy, Indians have once again proudly started adding their names to the history of seafaring.