Sails' up!

Published: 04 December, 2013 22:36 IST | Kanika Sharma |

The second edition of Festival of Sails promises to re-ignite the nostalgic love affair that Mumbai has always shared with sailing in the Arabian Sea

Gautama Dutta, organiser of Festival of Sails, has big plans forsailing buffs across Mumbai and India, in the second edition of this adventure sport event in the city. Modelled much like international sailing festivals, it will include various regattas (series of boat races) that will come alive, along the Gateway of India. Dutta, a national champion and Asian medalist in sailing, elaborates, “The idea has been there in most Mumbai yachtsmen’s minds. Most have participated in yachting events in Germany, France, Miami Melbourne, and Auckland. The Festival of Sails’ Trust will give shape to our collective dream of having a grand annual sailing event in the city.”

India’s renowned pair, Upamanyu Dutta and Hussain Arsiwalla, winning the final race of Harbour Cup in the 420 Class during the Festival of Sails, 2012

In 2012, the festival saw over 100 boats and 300 yachtsmen participate in various races while the Government of Maharashtra and the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) supported the event. This time, Dutta who also holds the distinction of circumnavigating the globe in 1988-89, hopes to bring traditional forms of sailing to the fore. “There have been a lot of traditional sailing vessels in the Arabian Sea. I have grown up seeing the lanteen-rigged sailing dhows sailing to and from Bombay Port -- the ‘batels’, the majestic ‘thonis’. However sadly, these vessels are no longer seen, especially since the last five years, as they have been replaced by motorised crafts,” he informs. Calling them eco-friendly sailing vessels, Dutta feels these traditional vessels merit interest and attention as they have received worldwide.

A street fair on the Gateway of India Promenade is on the cards

The races are namely of four types -- Welcome Race, Bombay Cup, Konkan Challenge, and Away All Sails. Enthusiasts should contact the Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC), who is also hosting the event. Dutta explains, “The club can connect you with yacht owners who are looking for crews. That way you can get to go to sea with an experienced seafarer and learn about boats and sailing.” 

You can sail too!
“The big boats are owned by people who can afford them. Day boats and racing boats belong to clubs like the RBYC, Colaba Sailing Club (CSC), and Bombay Sailing Association (BSA). Club members can use them for a fee. If you wish to go sailing, apply for membership to any of these clubs; CSC offers membership at a nominal rate,” shares Gautama Dutta.

About the festival
There will be two sections: International Classes Regatta and Offshore Regatta. Most of India’s top ranked sailors aspiring torepresent the country at the 2016 Olympics and other international competitions will participate.

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