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Mumbai's Gaurav Shinde on verge of making history

Not even the wealthiest and most influential people can boast of having travelled the whole wide world, but 25-year-old Mumbaikar Gaurav Shinde is close to achieving just that when he participates in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race next year.

And strangely, the fact that he will etch his name in sailing history by becoming the first Indian to race around the globe does not give sea-lover Shinde his kicks. He is simply looking forward to being one with the love of his life – the sea.

Shinde will embark on the 11-month adventure as crew on one of the 12 boats when he leaves Southampton (UK) shores next July. The 40,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe will conclude at Derry London-berry (N Ireland) after touching down at all continents in the world. Shinde, who will have to undergo extensive training in UK before the race, told MiD DAY yesterday: “I love to be at sea. When I was eight, I used to go swimming everyday. And even when I went on holidays it was always at a place near a beach.

“I just want to be at sea. Milestones come second. Participation is everything. A friend once correctly said, ‘we (sailors) have saline water in our veins, not blood.

“I always wanted to enrol in the Sea Cadet Corps because I was interested in joining the army or navy. I joined when I was just 12 years old and fell in love with long distance sailing.

Interest in offshore sailing
“I later took interest in offshore sailing. After winning at the National Offshore Sailing Championships (from Cochin to Lakhswadweep) in 2008 (won the return leg) and 2011 (won the full race) I wanted to sail internationally. Someone from the Yachting Association of India suggested my name to the organisers of Clipper Round the World. They then arranged for a telephonic interview. They gave me situations and asked how I would react in different situations. After some days, Clipper got back and offered a contract.”

Goregaon lad Shinde, who is a Mass Media graduate from St Xavier’s College, currently works for Google India as Search Quality Evaluator and has been living in Hyderabad for the last two years.

Though the race would take a toll physically and mentally, considering the long duration, Shinde is not deterred. He gets romantic when he talks about life far from the shores.

“It’s what a mountaineer would feel on top of Mt Everest. It’s a different feeling. In the night there is no land is sight in all directions. There is no light. The stars are to you. The waves are like music to the ears. The silence is just golden. It is not something everybody would not do.

Titanic pose
Shinde spends most of his free time reading non-fiction books on sailing or watch videos/documentaries of earlier sailing races online. One of his most cherished memories on a boat is imitating the famous Titanic pose, where Kate Winslet stands with her arms outstretched at the edge of the ship. “

You can see only the sea (when standing at the edge of the boat) and not what is below you. It feels like flying.”

Shinde also shared his things-to-do list with MiD DAY: “The Sydney Harbour Bridge (Australia) is so beautiful. I want to sail there. I’m also looking forward to meet Sir Robin Knox Johnston (the first person to sail single handed and non-stop around the world between June 14 June 1968 and April 22 1969).

He circumnavigated the world in a Mumbai-made boat. But sadly, we don’t have people who build that kind of boats here anymore.

Johnston, is the founder/chairman of the race.

But if Shinde does not get proper monetary backing in time, his dream can be derailed: “My family is not very affluent. I will need around 40,000 pounds to participate in the race and some more money to train and stay in UK. I am looking for sponsors. If I don’t get any, I will have to take a loan. But, I have to be at sea.”  

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