by Des Ryan
While the development of leisure boating in India is greatly dominated by the purchase of powerboats by the ever expanding middle class, the Navy is leading the way in the development of sailing. First there was the circumnavigation, then the non-stop circumnavigation, and now the women naval officers are getting a piece of the action.
Shweta Kapur - already India’s greatest female sailor
The Navy's first ever team of women sailors is beginning to take shape for a circumnavigation of the world as Lieutenant-Commander Shweta Kapur (pictured above) has started practicing as crew in the race from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro on board the sailing boat Mhadei, which Sail-World readers will remember as India's fine 56ft Van de Stadt - but Indian manufactured - yacht which completed the first ever Indian circumnavigation.
Lt Commander Shweta Kapur, an education officer, is one of the three women officers selected by the Navy for the mission to circumnavigate the globe in Mhadei.
The other two women officers include lieutenant Vartika Joshi and sub lieutenant P Swati. Shweta started her journey from Cape Town on Mhadei.
Dilip Dhonde, India's first solo circumnavigator on the same boat Mhadei, is the skipper of the boat. Shweta is being groomed by Dhonde who had also helped Abhilash Tomy, India's first non-stop circumnavigator.
On the way back from Rio after the completion of the race, Joshi and P Swati would get to sail back on Mhadei.
Dilip Donde Mhadei
Shweta has become the first Indian naval officer to spend such a long time at sea. Normally to date women officers are allowed only day sailing on the naval vessels so this is a significant break through for the women.
Shweta, an avid adventurist, would be Mhadei's first woman skipper. Daughter of a naval officer, Shweta had volunteered for the Mhadei mission.
She became the first Indian woman to sail 5,000 miles non-stop on her first ever sea voyage to reach Cape Town.