Fun on high seas


ANCIENT MARINER Lodewijk Brust   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: STAN RAYAN

With a new Marina coming up, Kochi looks more interesting than Goa, says Lodewijk Brust, organiser of the Kochi to Turkey Yacht Rally which left the city recently

As he lands at the Bolghatty Palace to bid goodbye to friends, old and new, you hear excited barking on a yacht berthed nearby. Life can be very lonely on the high seas but Lodewijk Brust has his two dogs for company.

The Dutchman is the chairman, organiser, and also a competitor, in the Vasco da Gama Yacht Rally, the Kochi to Turkey event which took off from the city the other day. On the way, the three-and-half-month event will halt at Salalah in Oman, Yemen, Egypt and Cyprus before winding up at Alanya in Turkey in early May.

For a man who took to sailing only at 30, Brust has come a long way.

“I’m an electrical engineer. My neighbour wanted me to go to a sailing school one day and asked me if I could go with him,” said Brust, now 70. “That’s how I came to sailing.”

Brust, from Amsterdam, was good at handball and skiing but once he was introduced to sailing, it became a passion.

“My mom is only 98. I’ll be sailing for the next 25 years and then I’ll go back,” he said laughing, a few minutes before takeoff.

Brust was a successful engineer, working for about 80 to 100 hours a week. His son, who was studying in the US, advised his dad to stop slogging all day and take to sailing. He has been sailing, and globetrotting on the high seas, for nearly two decades now.

The beginning

A few years ago, some of his friends asked him to organise a sailing event which ran through Europe and Asia. That’s how the Vasco da Game Rally began in 2005 in Turkey.

“I’ve been to Kochi six times after that. And this is the third rally,” he said. “We finished the rally in Goa on our last two trips but Kochi is more interesting. You have a new marina coming up too.”

The fourth edition will leave Turkey in November. “The Turkey to Kochi leg takes about seven months because of the winter. We arrive in Kochi just before the monsoon.”

Forget the world

How’s life on the sea?

“More than anything, it’s fun, you can forget the world, relax and meet new people and places. We have a nice bedroom and a kitchen so it’s home too.”

The rally has people from Sweden, Holland, France, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and for the first time, a team from Japan. “We had 22 yachts when we left Alanya, most of the people are couples.”

But Brust has just his two dogs for company. “One of them, Lloyd, a welsh terrier, has been with me for the last nine years.”

Surely, he must need someone to help him out along the way, take turns on the deck?

“I stay up for 20 minutes, then sleep for the next 20, that’s how it goes. And sometimes, the yachts are 500 metres from each other, at times 100 kms away.”

And the dogs, don’t they need to exercise, run around?

“They do, all over the place. And I”ve put up nets around the yacht. They enjoy too.”

A few minutes later, one heard joyful barking as Brust climbed on to his yacht waved out his goodbye.


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