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Sailor’s paradise

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Perfect wind and wave action make Rushikonda stand apart as a top water sport destination

Sailing alongParticipants in sail boats in the waters of RushikondaPhotos: K.R. Deepak
Sailing alongParticipants in sail boats in the waters of RushikondaPhotos: K.R. Deepak

Gusty winds slamm the face and huge swells of waves come rushing towards the coast. But K. Satappa has a smile on his face. “It’s a great day for sailing,” he says as he gets ready to sail off with his RS:X.

The high-velocity winds and a ferocious sea notwithstanding, the sailor has to win the battle within and then tame the field. It’s not an easy task, but then these sailors are a hardy lot.

For a couple of days, the sea at Rushikonda transformed into tiny specks of colours dotted at different corners in the day. This was the battlefield for selecting the best teams to represent the country for Asian Games sailing competition. And Satappa of Army Yachting Node (AYN), is among the top probable participants who can make it to the prestigious Asian Games.

Having participated in many championships across different cities in India and internationally, Satappa says that Rushikonda had the best amalgamation of elements suited for sailing.

“Pune and Hyderabad have lakes; so an altogether different set of experience and skills are tested there. But most world championships are held at sea and the conditions in Rushikonda are very similar to them,” he added.

So what makes Rushikonda stand apart when it comes to water sports? Wind and wave action are very important for professional sailing and Rushikonda has a perfect blend of both. “In the lake, the wind shifts a lot and there is a wind block because of concrete structures that surround lakes,” says Rajeev Kumar, runner-up in the Hobie 16 category.

The competition is held in eight categories. On endless stretches of silver, with the sea reflecting sunlight, the sight of a few sails manoeuvring through the wind and slicing through the water, is a compelling one.

The wind speed has remained on an average 20 knots, which is an ideal speed. And on some days, it touches 25 knots too.

“It is more challenging and has perfect conditions for sailing,” Major Namrata Rathod of AYN says. But how do the sailors take control of the boat in gusty winds? Are milder conditions more suitable?

“Mumbai has on an average 10 to 15 knots of wind speed. But it becomes monotonous to sail on such calm wind speeds. Ultimately, a sailor who has learnt to ride the tide in a place with conditions like Rushikonda can handle any other situation. It prepares you to face the tough competition internationally,” she added.

Talking about places like Goa or Chennai, the participants said that to reach the open sea it takes two kilometres to sail inside. “But here in Rushikonda, as soon as you enter the waters there is open sea. The place can easily be described as the best water sports destination in the country,” said Kumar, who has been coming to the city every year from the past seven years for training.

While many national and international-level sailors and surfers have repeatedly reiterated the immense potential that Rushikonda has for turning into a top water sport destination in the world, the lack of an organised club and sustained efforts to promote the place have hindered the popularity of Rushikonda.

In order to start a yachting club in the region, the Vihar Hospitality group that operates at Rushikonda plans to join hands with the Yachting Association of India and Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh.

“The idea is to turn Rushikonda into a world-class water sports destination and conduct national and international level competitions on a regular basis,” said Seshagiri Mantri of Vihar Hospitality.

A sailor who has learnt to ride the tide in a place with conditions like Rushikonda can handle any other situation

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