Dilip Donde is first Indian to sail solo around the world

May 22nd, 2010 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, May 22 (IANS) Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy Saturday became the first Indian to sail solo around the world.
“This is a much-awaited first and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Commander Donde for achieving this feat,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said while welcoming him here at the conclusion of his over 21,000 nautical mile voyage.

It had begun August 19, 2009, in the INSV Mhadei, the first fibreglass yacht constructed entirely in India.

He sailed through the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arabian Sea. He also sailed along the Equator.

He made only four halts during the voyage, at Fremantle - Australia, Christchurch - New Zealand, Port Stanley - Falkland islands and Cape Town - South Africa.

According to the vice president, the voyage “would not have been possible without the support Commander Donde received from the Indian Navy. I wouldn’t have missed welcoming Commander Donde for anything in the world,” Ansari added.

The vice president mentioned that the young generation should be encouraged to focus on the spirit of adventure and innovation.

“Through the project ‘Sagar Parikrima’ the Indian Navy is helping in reviving the old tradition of sea faring. The younger generation should take this forward,” Ansari said.

Donde said: “After finishing the nine-month-long voyage on board INSV Mhedai, I cannot think of any achievement bigger than this.”

He is the 175th solo circumnavigator in the world, the first Indian and the second Asian to have achieved this feat.

Donde mentioned that he tackled the high seas and battled giant waves and ferocious winds. “There have been so many challenges in these nine months of sailing that it is very difficult to single out any one.”

But the voyage was unforgettable. “The entire project, from building the boat to going round the world, has been a singular experience. I have learnt a lot in the process, both about the technical aspects as well as human nature.”

Asked if he would put down his experiences in a book, Donde said: “I may. But right now I need to rest and give it some serious thought. I have already been writing a blog on the voyage.”

Asked if he would want to undertake such a voyage again, Donde said: “I would love that, but I would rather pass it on to a successor.”

The 56-foot-long Mhadei, with 23-tonne displacement, is made of wood core fibre glass with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment fitted on it. Vice Admiral (Retd) M.P. Awati has been a mentor to the project.

INSV Mhadei became the first Indian sailing vessel to participate in the Fremantle Sailing Club’s Opening Season event.

It was built by Ratnakar Dandekar of Aquarius Fibreglas in Goa. It is named after the eponymous river Mandovi, better known as river Mhadei in Karnataka, from where it originates.

Donde, a National Defence Academy (NDA) alumnus and a trained clearance diver in the Indian Navy, volunteered for Project ‘Sagar Parikrama’ and also trained with legendary Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop round the world in 1968-69.

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