Port Wings News Network:
In a city that hosts international events like the Chennai Open and the Chennai Marathon, the sport of sailing has gained prominence over the past decade and we wish to put Chennai on world sailors’ map, Mr. Ashok Thakkar, Commodore of Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA) has said.
Speaking to Port Wings, Mr Thakkar, a known personality among shipping fraternity and a sailing enthusiast, who has also served on the Board of Chennai Port Trust and headed the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce during its diamond Jubilee year said that setting up of a dedicated Tamil Nadu Sailing Academy in Chennai would not only help us provide a better training to budding sailors here, it will also attract the international sailors, who are out on high-seas throughout the year under different expeditions and circumnavigating around he globe to visit Chennai regularly.
Q. Tell us about the TNSA, its activities?
Mr Thakkar: Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, which began its journey in 2001 founded by a group of sailing enthusiast with the support of Union Government and Tamil Nadu state government, is a not-for-profit, non-political and non-sectarian association based in Chennai. The main objective of TNSA is to foster, encourage and train people in the sport of Sailing and allied Water Sports. The objective also includes building fraternal relations with other Yacht Clubs and Sailing Association in India and abroad. The three classes of boats that we started supporting are --“Optimist”, the starter single-handed boat for sailors from the age of 7 to 15, The “Laser4.7” for which the first nationals were hosted by TNSA and “29er” a double-handed skiff for sailors up to the age of 19.
Q. Tell us about Sailing as sports?
AT: Sailing teaches and trains the child to face challenges in life and also the brain to concentrate for a long duration of time and builds immense self confidence. It is not just taking on winds that blow against you but is a complex skill set that train a person in strategy / concentration and physical endurance and most import self confidence, decision making and dedication. It would make a person hold in good stead in whatever the career he or she may choose later. TNSA promote sailing as a healthy and enjoyable sport for pleasure and competition for everyone. We provide the right platform for Indian sailing community, in particular youth sailors, with a terrific opportunity to learn and develop into future world champions in the segment.
Q. Tell us about growth of sailing as sports in Chennai over the years?
AT: Since 2004, two years after TNSA’s inception, we conducted the first ever National Championships in three classes simultaneously, and since then TNSA has been conducting National Sailing Championships every year. With the largest youth fleet in the country, TNSA sailors have been dominating the junior level nationally and marking their presence globally. It is wonderful to be spearheading the growth of a nascent sport in Tamil Nadu. TNSA also brought to India the only International Youth Regatta where the best from the world come and sail. With regular events, there is no doubt that they will spark great interest in the sport and draw more youngsters to sailing.
Q. Shed some light on ups and downs in TNSA?
AT: During 2004 Tsunami, more than 16 boats used for training by the sailors were badly damaged and the loss had put a question mark over the future of association. However, we overcame the tragedy with Central government’s grant and members support to buy new boats for training. In the Ups we were the first to have introduced the Laser4.7 championships and also introduced a new class the 29er and 49er into Indian sailing.
Q. Elaborate us about the Tamil Nadu Sailing Academy proposal?
AT: Though we enjoy total support from the Tamil Nadu government as well as the Centre in promoting sailing as sports, setting up an academy for sailing in Chennai has been our consistent endeavor. We already have basic infrastructure in our association and there are students who are learning sailing from us. But once the academy is launched, it will give a big boost to the sailing sport. We are in regular touch with the Tamil Nadu government and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT), Yachting Association of India and Sports Authority of India. We are hopeful for a positive reply from the government soon on the academy.
Q. What are the advantages of having such Academy for sailing in Chennai?
AT: As a setup, Academy for Sailing in Chennai would augur well for the growth of water sports in the region. TNSA had studied a few academy models from world’s leading sailing nations and the success they achieved after setting up academies. Specifically after seeing the growth of the sports in those countries, we feel that this academy will not just help Tamilnadu but also our Country as a whole. Certain cold countries are unable to sail during winters as the water is either too cold or has frozen they can also come to Chennai and continue with their training and help Indian sailing to pace and learn along with them.
We call our Beach the Marina Beach but there is no Marina that misnomer will get corrected. We will be creating another recreation facility for the citizens of Chennai. Looking at sailing more people may things of taking a career in Merchant Navy or Indian Navy. The waters of Cooum can be maintained clean and once the same is achieved the mosquito menace faced by the city will be reduced. Employments opportunity can be created also.
Q, Why are you so confident that you will be able to achieve this goal now?
AT: The present Government when in power during 2001 had accorded the permission to set up the TNSA and also accorded permission for the Secretary Sports to be on the Governing Council of TNSA.
The State has several schemes under which the sportsperson in every discipline are being supported financially. Infact the Elites Sports person Scheme of the state Government has supported the two TN girls to train for the Olympics and they have brought the first Girls Asian Games Medal for India. The Chief of Naval Staff is also creating opportunities for sailors to train and also enroll in the Indian navy. He is also trying to create more centres to spread the sport and this will also help in creating a security blanket around the coastal waters.