French Rescue Ship Nears Yacht of Indian Sailor Stranded Off Australia

September 24, 2018 Updated: September 24, 2018

SYDNEY—A French ship heading to the rescue of an Indian sailor injured in a grueling round-the-world race is expected to reach his storm-damaged yacht off Australia’s west coast on Sept. 24, Australian officials said.

The sailor, Abhilash Tomy, called for emergency aid on Sept. 22 after the yacht was badly damaged in a storm about 3,500 km (2,175 miles) west of the Australian coast, leaving him with severe back injuries.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue, said it expected a French fisheries patrol vessel to reach Tomy’s precariously-placed yacht as soon as 5 p.m. local time.

“All indications are the vessel is upright and floating high in the water but at any moment, a wave could push one of the damaged masts into the vessel and compromise its integrity,” Phil Gaden, a search and rescue official, told reporters in Canberra, the Australian capital.

The mast hangs over the yacht precariously, stoking fears that it could become dislodged and damage the watertight body of the boat, Gaden added.

Despite the nearness of the French ship, Gaden cautioned that rescuers might not be able to evacuate Tomy because of the yacht damage, in which case an Australian naval boat, positioned further away, might have to undertake the rescue.

Tomy, whose website says he became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, was contesting in the 30,000-mile (48000-km) Golden Globe Race.

Participant crafts, similar to those used 50 years ago in the first such race, which features a solo circumnavigation of the globe, are barred from using modern technology, except for their communications gear.

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