25-year-old Indian sailor Gaurav Shinde has a dream, a dream to build and sail around the world in the smallest boat ever. He is planning, like other young people before him like Zac Sunderland, Jessica Watson and Laura Dekker, to circumnavigate the globe in (perhaps) 200 days.
Gaurav at the helm
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.
Shinde was first acquainted with sailing at the age of 8 when he joined the Sea Cadet Co and took up sailing there. 'My passion for sailing kept growing and I went on to teach and coach in sailing,' says the sailor, originally from Mumbai.
'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.
'I plan to build a boat myself and embark on a 180 to 200 days voyage circumnavigating the world in it. Funds have been a crunch as I need at least Rs25 to 30 lakhs to build the boat and sponsors are not very excited about funding sailing,' reveals Shinde.
Speaking about the challenges at sea, Shinde who has taken part and won a number of sailing competitions said, 'I believe even the worst storm is navigable and there's always a way to make it through it.'
And strangely, the fact that he might etch his name in sailing history by becoming the first Indian to sail around the globe in the smallest boat does not give sea-lover Shinde his kicks. He is simply looking forward to being one with the love of his life – the sea.
Currently, Gaurav Shinde is looking for a sports manager and money to fund his sailing dreams. 'I tried crowdsourcing to fund a previous sailing exploit and managed to raise Rs2 lakh but I didn't find that method very feasible,' admits Shinde.
Talking about his dream of building his own boat and circumnavigating the globe, Shinde reveals, 'The plan is to start building in June 2014 through the monsoon and then test the boat for two months and then set sail.'
'Sailing is often seen as an elitist sport and the sailing community needs to open up as this is the only way that will ensure that more people from all strata of society take up sailing. Also sailing and safety needs to be given more importance as it has been overlooked a lot in India,' said Shinde.
However, before he embarks on that project, he has some practising to do, so Shinde's first ambition is to compete in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race as crew, as one of his heroes is the fabled British yachtsman and founder of the race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
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.
But, as Shinde says, '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.'
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),' he says, 'and not what is below you. It feels like flying.'
Shinde also shared his things-to-do list for his journey around the world. '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.'