Navy women script sailing history : The Tribune India

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Navy women script sailing history

Navy women script sailing history

Lt Cdr Dilna K (left) and Lt Cdr Roopa A during the flag-in ceremony of INSV Tarini. ANI

Cmde Srikant B KEsnur (Retd)

Amid the hype and hoopla of the IPL, a significant sporting achievement has been relegated to the margins. On April 21, Lieutenant Commanders Dilna K and Roopa A, two Indian Navy officers, completed a historic transoceanic voyage on the Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini. In the process, they became the first Indian women to achieve the distinction of undertaking a transoceanic expedition in double-handed mode.

The two travelled by sea, to Mauritius and back, propelling on wind power alone. They spent nearly two months on a small sailing vessel braving rough seas, strong winds, high waves, treacherous currents and much else that nature throws at you in the wilderness of oceans.

While India has in its ocean sailing catalogue feats of solo sailing and sailing by a group of people (usually six), this is the first time it has been done double-handed — crewed by only two — over such a long distance.

Dilna and Roopa will now prepare for their next big challenge. The Navy is preparing to flag off the ‘Sagar Parikrama IV’expedition, a circumnavigation of the globe, on INSV Tarini, scheduled to commence in September.

Interestingly, both have an armed forces background — Dilna’s father was in the Army while Roopa’s served in the Air Force. Both were also actively involved in the NCC before joining the Navy and have led Navy’s Republic Day marching contingents. Dilna is a commerce graduate who joined the Logistics branch in the Navy. She has also been a national-level shooter. Roopa has been a university rank holder in aeronautical engineering who joined the Navy’s Armament Inspectorate branch. She is an active marathon runner. Both have logged an impressive 38,000 nautical miles of sailing under their belt.

Ever since they volunteered for ‘Sagar Parikrama IV’ in 2022, both women have made INSV Tarini their home. They often stay on the ship even when it is berthed alongside its home port in Goa and they are the ones who clean its decks and sweep its floors and do all the ‘ship’s husbandry’ tasks. The Navy’s Ocean Sailing Node in Goa gives them a full range of off-shore support, infrastructure and academic guidance. INS Mandovi acts as the mothership nurturing the vessel and the sailors, and the Indian Naval Sailing Association at Delhi handles the overall development of sailing in the Indian Navy.

The Navy has exhaustively trained these officers in all aspects of ocean sailing. Further, a full-fledged medical support team, which includes a psychologist and sleep medicine specialist, monitors their health and medical fitness. Above all, they have an ace in the form of the legendary Abhilash Tomy, who joined them as a mentor in August 2023.

In praise of the sailors, Tomy says, “My job was tremendously reduced thanks to the willingness and effort that the women have put in… Personally, I think they have done well, especially in comparison to the other crew who have sailed the route. They have been safe and quite professional in dealing with defects in the boat and navigating it, and have brought the boat back in an excellent state of preservation.”

Quite fascinatingly, in Cowes, UK, on April 22, a sailing yacht appropriately called ‘Maiden’ won the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race, becoming the first all-women crew to win an around-the-world yacht race. The crew included two Indians who sailed in different legs. Lt Cdr Payal Gupta is a serving Navy officer and Dhanya Pilo is the daughter of a retired Navy officer. Their triumph needs a separate telling.

#Cricket #Indian Navy #IPL

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