While it is true that leisure sailing has been around for a couple of hundred years in the western world, they are fast catching on in countries such as India. In India their Navy is 'leading the fleet', as the first-ever non-stop solo circumnavigation - by a naval officer - was flagged off from Mumbai on Thursday morning.
Tomy is farewelled by his naval colleagues
Lieutenant commander Abhilash Tomy, the first Indian to attempt a solo non-stop circumnavigation, seemed at his confident best as he set sail for a voyage that would take him across all meridians and through the equator twice. Many salutes and a ceremonious send-off were given to Tomy for the solitary voyage.
Tomy has stacked up food, water, fuel and equipment, but the really daunting task will be to survive through the unpredictable Southern Ocean and erratic weather seasons.
Tomy hopes to complete the voyage in five to six months. He will be sailing on an indigenously-made ship, Mhadei. Mhadei was chosen for circumnavigation three years ago when another naval officer, Dilip Donde, sailed around the globe. His voyage of 276 days and 21,600nm, however, had four stops - Fremantle, Christchurch, Port Stanley and Cape Town.
On Thursday, Tomy boarded the boat amid cheers and salute from his colleagues. He was given a naval memento, a binoculars and a cap with the naval logo.
Tomy interacted with schoolchildren and colleagues as the naval band played a tribute. Just as the boat started moving away from the shore, Tomy waved out his cap and bade adieu.
His colleagues queued up on another ship and saluted as the boat sailed away. Some navy officers went on a ferry to see Tomy off till Mumbai's sea boundary.
As the boat sailed off and disappeared into the distance, the naval officers and civilians, who had gathered to watch the flag-off ceremony, said that they would follow Tomy's progress closely through his blog.
The Indian navy organized the circumnavigation as a way of making sea sailing more visible to the public. 'I hope more youngsters would be inspired to be sailors after this,' Tomy had said during a recent interview.