Aashim Mongia: We are with you in spirit, Tomy

Sep 25, 2018, 08:35 IST | Hemal Ashar

Arjuna awardee Aashim Mongia on Mumbai sailing circuit sentiments as sailor Abhilash Tomy is rescued; calls Tomy's accident a learning curve for race organisers

Aashim Mongia: We are with you in spirit, Tomy
A file picture of Abhilash Tomy leaving for a solo, non-stop around-the-world trip in his sailboat from Gateway of India on November 1, 2012

As news of Golden Globe Race (GGR) Commander Abhilash Tomy, currently serving as an Indian Naval officer, being rescued by French vessel Osiris on Monday (yesterday), broke, the collective sigh of relief itself was so strong that it could have set a vessel sailing. Sailors in Mumbai are watching the rescue effort keenly, "but it was the weekend on which we were most tense," said Mumbai's Aashim Mongia.

Aashim hails from what is dubbed as the 'first family of Mumbai sailing' (father Surinder, brother Nitin and Aashim are all Arjuna awardees). Aashim said, "The city's sailing fraternity usually sails together on Saturday afternoons. Tomy was part of this sailing circuit."

Traditional race
Aashim said that, "We were following his preparation for the race. Even when he was chosen for the race, you could feel the pride welling up within the sailing community here. To be chosen as one amongst 18 persons to sail around the world, "is a huge, huge privilege and to take up the challenge, well one must be a little mad too," laughed Aashim. This GGR race features boats that are of old construction. Sailors are not allowed any new technology like GPS, electronic watches, electronic compass or an electronic meter.

Aashim Mongia
Aashim Mongia

Courage and willpower
Aashim explained, "Sailing in a boat like that would be akin to being without 'Google' these days. You need to have a skill set, in-depth knowledge about seamanship to survive; you have to be extremely well-prepared. Imagine a small boat, buffeted by 10m high waves and you are alone in an ocean with nobody around you for at least 3,000 miles. You need an immense amount of courage, willpower and mental strength to survive. These are the qualities that our Navy training instills, , the courses that one starts off with as a young cadet are all about battling adversity."

Global warming
Aashim adds that, "Abhilash Tomy's rescue may be a learning curve for the organisers, because global warming means weather patterns are becoming hugely unpredictable. The skipper leading this race has been on record stating that this has been the worst weather he has ever encountered. We expect storms of this intensity in the first week of October, their early arrival shows how global warming has affected the race too. We are at halfway mark and I think from reports, at least that half of the 18 participants have dropped out."

Aashim, who is the Managing Director (MD) of a yachting company in the city, having left the Indian Navy in 1994, hopes that, "We see Abhilash Tomy back with us on Saturday afternoon circuits. We first of course wish he gets to a hospital soon and then, wish him a recovery. I do not want to say anything more than that, other than, to go into a race like this, you need to be a sailor at heart, sailing has to be an obsession with you. Complete or not complete, first or last, all those who were at the start line are winners in their own way."

What happened
Abhilash Tomy was 'dismasted'. He suffered a serious back injury. Wind speeds were clocking at 130 kmph and waves rising 10 metre high, off Perth on Friday. He was rescued in conscious state and shifted to French fishing vessel Osiris.

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