Beat the heat with sailing! Shreyashi DasGupta meets Ayesha Lobo, a promising young sailor who hopes to represent India at the 2016 Olympics
Adventure sports are new entrants into youngsters' packed holiday schedules. And even within this growing niche, children have already found their favourites. Some like to go kayaking while others prefer rock climbing. But the one sport that has really caught young attentions is sailing. Children as old as eight have joined sailing clubs and spend their weekends literally at sea. Reema Kalra, a 15-year-old, recalls her first sailing experience with her father. She says, "Sailing brings you in direct contact with the elements of nature. I enjoy the splashing water and the quiet beauty away from the hustle-bustle of daily life."
Ayesha Lobo is another such sailing enthusiast. She is not only a sailor but also the youngest instructor ever at the Joint Optimist Sailing Programme. This programme is conducted by the Royal Bombay Yacht Club and the Colaba Sailing Club for children above 8 years of age. Sailing has given Ayesha a feeling of freedom, away from the stress of everyday life. Her passion for sailing started when she was 11. Says Ayesha, "I started training younger children two years ago and I can see passion and excitement in the little ones too."
Ayesha's student Avantika Sinha, a 9-year-old from the American School of Bombay says, "I started sailing six months ago and I am planning to continue sailing as it has now become my hobby." Avantika feels that not many people around her are aware of this sport and has encouraged her friends to try sailing out.
We asked Ayesha what children need in order to get started on sailing. She says. "One should be focussed and should be able to swim. The best boat for children to sail in is the Optimist. A training programme in sailing gives children an insight into the different aspects of sailing. It teaches them the basics of how to sail, how to take a boat out, safety guidelines and precautions."
When asked about her favourite sailing spot, Ayesha says, "It has to be the Gateway of India or Marine Drive in Mumbai. Otherwise South Africa, Greece and Australia are some of my favourite sailing destinations."
In addition to winning many sailing championships, Ayesha has also been awarded the title of the most promising 'Lady Sailor' by the Yachting Association of India in 2006-2007.
In a country where girls are often clubbed into the "not very sporty" category, it is extremely encouraging to see girls taking an interest in sailing. Ayesha adds, "This sport has a lot of women's categories in the Olympics too. I have a women's sailing team and we want to make it to the Olympics in 2016!"
Apart from sailing, Ayesha is also a student at St Xavier's College, Mumbai where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. She plays an active role in promoting this sport at her college. Ayesha says, "Many of my college friends have joined sailing and started their own teams."
COMMON SAILING TERMINOLOGY AND PARTS OF A BOAT
Buoy: an anchored float used to mark a definite spot
Deck: the flat forward, stern or side platforms of a boat that can be stood on
Floorboards: prevent the boat's bottom from damage
Hull: the outer body of a boat
Jib: small triangular sail, carried forward of the mast
Leech: the outside edge of the sail that goes from the top of the mast to the free end of the boom
Mainsail: the largest sail
Mast: vertical spar by which the sails are supported
Port side: left side of a boat, facing forward
Rudder: device fastened at the stern, which directs the course of the boat
Starboard: the right side of the boat, facing forward
Tiller: pole-like attachment to rudder, used for steering
Kayaking is a water sport where one uses a boat called a kayak to move across the water. Rae Sport Academy conducts kayaking classes for children above 10 years of age at H20, Mumbai.
PLACES TO LEARN SAILING:
Tel: 09987681826; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, Chennai
Tel: 044-25382253; E-mail: email@example.com
Inland Windsurfing and Sailing Academy, Pune
Tel: 09604462527; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerala Yachting Association, Cochin
Tel: 0484-3233933; E-mail: email@example.com