Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei was flagged off from Cape Town on Saturday to participate in the Cape-2 Rio Yachting Race 2014. Skippered by Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian solo circumnavigator Mhadei has a crew of four, including Commander MVV Satish, the trainee skipper, Commander TGS Bedi and, for the first time, a lady officer Lieutenant Commander Shweta Kapur.
Lieutenant Commander Shweta Kapoor, the daughter of an Indian Naval Captain, joined the Navy in August 2007. Speaking on her experiences over the past month, Shweta says “It was amazing to sail across the Indian Ocean, and so far the Gods have been kind. We have had to put up with a great deal of rolling and pitching, but I have learnt to adjust and am okay.”
On completion of the race, INSV Mhadei will shape its return leg to Goa, with a crew turn around at Rio and at Cape Town. One lady officer will be part of the crew in each leg of the voyage. By the time Mhadei returns to Goa, the Indian Navy would have trained three lady officers in the art of ocean sailing.
These lady officers will form the core team of a prospective ‘all-women crew’ for a circumnavigation of the globe. A subsequent solo circumnavigation of the globe by a lady officer is also planned.
It may be recalled that Mhadei is an Indian-built yacht that was delivered to the Indian Navy in February 2009 by Aquarius Fibreglass at Goa. In the four years since, Mhadei has logged over 80,000 kms, has been part of two solo circumnavigations; first in 2009-10 under Commander Dilip Dhonde, and then non-stop in 2012-13 under Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy.