PANAJI: Goan sailors have just returned after a successful ocean sailing expedition to Lakshadweep in a landmark development that opens “new avenues for adventure sailors as well as for ocean cruising as a business opportunity,” says Anil Madgavkar, former president of Board Sailing Association of India and Goa Yachting Association.
As part of the annual ’75 knots regatta’, adventure sailors team comprising Anil Madgavkar (team leader), Col. Milind Prabhu (deputy) , Hemant Arondekar, Nitin Manjrekar and Divya Sharma; sailed from Goa to Kavarati Island and Suheli Par Island in Lakshadweep, and returned to Goa sailing a total of 720 nautical miles (1300 kms) over a period of 11 days.
“This open ocean adventure expedition was very significant, as it opened a new chapter of Ocean sailing for Goans, who have till date been doing local sea sailing activities; and participating in competitions in different classes of sailing in India. Till date, no Goan has sailed from Goa to Lakshadweep and this adventure expedition has opened new avenues for adventure sailors as well as for ocean cruising as a business opportunity,” Madgavkar, who is a qualified Yacht Master holding an International Certificate of Competency for Pleasure crafts, told www.livenewsgoa.com.
Apart from Madgavkar, only Col. Prabhu had experience in Ocean sailing, while the other crew members were novices with experience in local day sailing only, but were keen on an ocean sailing adventure.
Brainchild of veteran sailing promoter Cesar Menezes and Anil Madgavkar, this adventure expedition was undertaken to promote Ocean sailing with the aim of someday sending a team of Goan yachtsmen around the world in a sail-boat.
Anil skippered the team and this adventure sail was conceptualised and executed, despite all the hardships. “The original plan was to sail using only wind, from Goa to Uligamu Island of Maldives. The team left Goa from Dona Paula on 7th April and was seen off by Cesar Menezes. We had good winds till Agati Island, and covered the distance of 300 nautical miles in two-and-half days on wind power alone reaching Agati on 10th April at 6 am only to be welcomed by a big school of dolphins. It was smooth sailing all the way to Agati, with the team averaging 5 knots speed. However after reaching Agati Island in Lakshadweep, the wind died down, forcing the team to use their engines to move ahead. The team used their engines for a few hours and then decided to go to Kavarati Island due to overheating of the engines,” revealed Madgavkar.
Due to the prevailing weather conditions, the sail had to turnaround from Lakshadweep rather than heading to the pre-planned destination of Maldives.
“After reaching Kavarati, the team was faced with no wind doldrum conditions for the next 4 to 5 days, and had the choice to continue to Uligam only on motor power. Since the purpose of this adventure expedition was to harness wind power only and use motors for emergencies only; and since the weather forecast showed no wind at all for the next 4 to 5 days, the team decided to turn back and return to Goa. The return sail was painfully slow with shifting winds of barely 1 to 2 knots from 12th to 16th April, with the team covering barely 10 to 15 nautical miles a day,” added Madgavkar.
The biggest challenge for the Goan team came in the form of a ‘localized storm’ on the morning of 15th April. “Stormy winds of over 30 knots, sea swell and criss cross waves of over 3 metres for 2 hours,” narrated Madgavkar but “despite the dire conditions, the team did not panic and handled themselves with confidence. The storm caused some damage to the fore sail. The winds finally picked up for several hours from 15th April, and better progress was made after crossing Mangalore area,” he asserted.
Once the team touched Dona Paula late night on 18th April, the excitement was palpable. After all, the Goans had successfully debuted in ocean sailing and thus paved the way to inspire the sailing enthusiasts and sports tourism stakeholders to tap the vast potential of the blue economy.
Meanwhile, the Lakshadweep Tourism authorities and Indian Coast Guard team provided encouragement and help to the Goan team during the voyage. The team was welcomed back in Goa by Cesar Menezes, Ravi Shankar, Ashwin Tombat and Derrick Menezes.