India’s first solo world navigator sets sail to make history again | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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India’s first solo world navigator sets sail to make history again

When Commander Dilip Donde SC (Shaurya Chakra) set sail on Indian Navy sailing vessel Mhadei from Goa on Thursday, he, along with the vessel, etched another first in Indian history.

mumbai Updated: Nov 28, 2010 01:11 IST
Presley Thomas

When Commander Dilip Donde SC (Shaurya Chakra) set sail on Indian Navy sailing vessel Mhadei from Goa on Thursday, he, along with the vessel, etched another first in Indian history.

For the first time an Indian team will participate in a trans-Atlantic sailing race.

The race, which is more than 70 years old and rated one of the elite races in the maritime world, will have sailboats cross the 3,300 nautical miles of the South Atlantic Ocean.

The race is scheduled to start on January 15, 2011, at Cape Town in South Africa and terminate at the port of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil on February 11.

In May, Commander Donde had completed a year-long solo circumnavigation around the globe which the Navy had titled Sagar Parikrama.

Commander Donde was decorated with the Shaurya Chakra, the highest peace time gallantry award on August 15.

The grit and guts of this Navy officer, however, remains concealed behind his nonchalant demeanour, when Commander Donde describes it as another journey into the unknown.

“I think I have developed this fetish to put myself in unknown territories,” said Commander Donde. “The only difference is I was sailing all alone for a year when I was at sea last time. This journey… will have three more crew members.”

Commander Donde will be accompanied by lieutenant commander Abhilash Tomy, lieutenant commander Khajuria and chief petty officer Pankaj Singh.

Lieutenant commander Tomy has sailed on Mhadei to Mauritius but the other two are greenhorns to sailing, said commander Donde.

The first task for him is to teach the new entrants to sail, which he plans to accomplish by the time he reaches Cape Town in South Africa in the first week of January.

Commander Donde, though excited, is pragmatic about his chances of winning the race.

“Participation itself is a great moment. We would want to first participate and then take it on from there. Our immediate goal is to reach Cape Town,” he said.