In 2018 Anandi Nandan Chandavarkar first went sailing with her father at a sailing club in Versova and fell in love with the blue waters and vessel she was onboard. Unlike many children of her age, she knew that her calling was the sea and being a sailor. Nine-year-old Anandi started professional training for sailing. Four years down the line, she has won a gold at world’s toughest regattas Phuket’s King’s Cup Regatta.
Talking about her historic win, Anandi says winning a sports competition at sea demands a lot of mental and physical strength. “My training was disturbed during the lockdown but I didn’t stop preparing mentally and physically at home,” says Anandi.
“I have support from my parents and my school,” Anandi says. Contrary to the perception that sailing is unsafe, she clarifies, “It is reasonably a safe sport. We always have a lifejacket on and there are rescue and coach boats while racing in case of equipment failure or accident.”
The 34th Kings Cup is a bucket list event for most sailors and encompasses dinghy sailing, keelboats, and multihulls. “You see all kinds of boats from small dinghies to multi-million dollar TP52s racing here. It’s so mesmerising and inspiring,” the young sailor gushes.
She trained for more than eight hours a day, three times a week on water and rest of the time in gym for strength training.
Self-motivation and focus
Anandi was trained to handle her boat and due to the fixed course sailing, there was no passage planning that she needed to prepare.
However, it wasn’t easy for Anandi once she was at the sea for the regatta. From cold winds as high as 25 knots to ranging as low as two-three notes, and a small thunderstorm, Anandi had a difficult time dealing with the weather. “This regatta was one of the most challenging regattas I have ever sailed. It was exciting because it was the prestigious King Cup Regatta, so it felt terrific to win,” she says.
“I had to stay focused all the time. Staying consistent was strenuous because each race was 40 minutes, and there were a lot of mistakes and failures. I went through much negative thinking as well... but I overcame this by thinking more positively about the races — one race at a time,” recalls Anandi.
The participants at the regatta are not allowed to look at the result sheet at the end of the days because it could impact the next day’s racing. “On the first day of the regatta, I had a bad day, but because I didn’t look at the results, I could motivate myself and move forward and work harder on the second day. I found out on the last day that I was leading, so that felt good,” the eighth-grade student responds.
Failing to win
While Anandi won the Gold at the championship, the entire expedition for her has been a learning. She recalls wise words from one of the On Water Jury members — ‘It’s not over till you cross the finish line’ — in Phuket, which kept her motivated. “He later explained that no matter whether you got off the start line poorly or whether you made any or many mistakes in the race you have to keep fighting to the end,” she explains.
She further confesses that she lived those lines when she was awarded a Yellow Penalty Flag at the start line — (if a judge finds that a boat has broken rule 42, they wave a yellow flag and call out the sail number of that boat). Due to the penalty, Anandi had to do two penalty turns, however, she managed to recover and secure second place.
In another race, Anandi says her boat’s rudder came off, while she watched in dismay as the rest of the fleet gained on the precious lead she had on them. “I had no choice but to jump in the water, fix the rudder and get back in the race, somehow managing second place again,” she gushes.
Anandi is currently training for the Australian Open Skiff championship to be held in Perth and the Open Skiff World Championship in Rimmi, Italy in July 2023. “I feel proud that I won the Gold for India and hope it will inspire other teenagers to discover their dreams with passion,” she signs off.
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