Navy's Offshore Sailing Regatta to set the stage for global solo circumnavigation

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38 personnel will be engaged in readying six Indian Naval Sailing Vessels (INSVs) for the 700-km “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”

Saturday saw brisk activity at the Southern Naval Command here, with 38 personnel - including eight women, engaged in readying six Indian Naval Sailing Vessels (INSVs) for the 700-km “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” Offshore Sailing Regatta to Goa from Sunday.

They include women personnel who circumnavigated the globe in one such vessel in an all-women group in 2017 and have fixed their eyes on doing it solo in a year's time. Powered by wind, they intend to cover the distance in less than five days. The regatta under the aegis of Indian Naval Sailing Association (INSA), is aimed at fostering the spirit of adventure and ocean sailing.

Among the eight women in the group are Lt Cdr Varthika Joshi and Lt Cdr Dilna K, a native of Kozhikode, who would navigate 40-feet and 56-feet long sailing vessels that were being readied for the regatta. "The women in each vessel would have to partake in all tasks that men do, including hoisting the sails and repairing electrical parts or the engine, if the need arose," Lt Cdr Dilna said.

Among the six vessels, Mhadei has done solo circumnavigation 'Sagar Parikrama' with Capt Dilip Donde in 2010 and Cdr Abhilash Tomy in 2013. She has also participated in the Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro races in 2011, 2014 & 2017. Tarini has done circumnavigation of the globe 'Navika Sagar Parikrama' in 2017 with all women officers crew.

All the vessels were made in India, at yards in Goa and Pondicherry. Their engine would be switched on only for emergency, for which a limited quantity of fuel will be available in each vessel.

Another participant Cdr Deepak Raj spoke of how he has so far covered over 15,000 kms in sailing vessels, including a Cape Town-Rio-Kochi journey in 2016. "Circumnavigating the globe solo would be a challenging task, what with the participant not having any human contact for about eight months."

Indian Navy's guard ships and aircraft would patrol the seas to ensure that there is no threat of harm by pirates, said his colleague Cdr K R Binoy. "The personnel - two of whom represented the country in sailing events in Asian Games, would brave the elements, especially the wind and the currents. They would even make optimal use of them for their speedy cruise, while maintaining alert for ships or fishing vessels they would encounter en route. With no fan, AC and having to cook one's food, each participant would have to do multiple tasks. All this would make the regatta a platform to identify trainers," he added.

The participating INSVs include Mhadei, Tarini, Bulbul, Neelkanth, Kadalpura and Hariyal. R.Adm TVN Prasanna, Command Staff Officer (Training) of SNC and Capt Manish Sain, Captain of INSA were among those who interacted with the navigators on Saturday.

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