Sailor Abhilash Tomy 'conscious, talking' after rescue off WA coast

Abhilash Tomy rescued conscious says Navy spokesman

Tomy's vessel was dismasted in extremely rough weather and sea conditions with wind speeds of 130 km

Extremely choppy seas and low visibility are hindering worldwide efforts to rescue a celebrated Indian sailor stuck over 3,500 km off Australia after a storm Friday damaged his boat and left him with an incapacitating back injury.

Tomy, whose website says he became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, was participating in the 30,000-mile (48000-km) race which bans the use of modern technology, except for communications gear.

The French vessel Osiris found and rescued Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy on Monday after racing 740 kilometers (460 miles) through the Indian Ocean to reach the stranded 39-year-old.

Tomy has a spare satellite phone in an emergency bag, but he is unable to reach it at present. "MIGHT NEED STRETCHER", Tomy said in his first satellite text message on Saturday.

Mr Tomy will be transported to Ile Amsterdam, a tiny island in the southern Indian Ocean which has a small hospital but no airport big enough to take a fixed-wing aircraft.

Phil Gaden, of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue, said the recuse could be treacherous.

'The alternative would have been to continue sailing singlehanded without the aid of self-steering (also smashed in the capsize) and risk having to call on the Rescue Services again should he be disabled further in another storm. "He has been an inspiration and hope for millions of Indians who dream big and want to achieve their goals", said Tarini skipper Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi.

The rescue team from French fishing vessle Osiris boarding Thuriya.

Mr Lloyd said the plans meant the rescue operation would take a number of days, with HMAS Ballarat on its way to the area but not expected to arrive until Wednesday.

Mr Tomy, who is also an Indian naval officer, had been coming third out of 18 participants before the severe storm and survived on cans of iced tea.

Race organisers said Tomy was "incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat.as far from help as you can possibly be".

The only contact with the outside world was through sporadic text messages through satellite and a Global Positioning System transmitter which gave his location to a race control room in France. Friday's storm, which damaged the vessel, whipped up 70-knot winds and 14-metre (45ft) waves, and also knocked down the yacht of another competitor, Dutchman Mark Slats, twice, BBC reported.

Competitors set sail from Les Sables-d'Olonne, France.

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