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Indian set to reach halfway point of solo sailing adventure

Last Updated: Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 17:29

London: A naval officer seeking to become the first Indian to sail solo around the world is set to dock at a remote South Atlantic island next week to complete the halfway point of his journey.

Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy is expected to reach Stanley, the capital of the British territory of Falkland Islands, Jan 18 to complete 12,600 nautical miles of his 21,600-nms hair-raising trip.

Solo circumnavigation of the world under sail - described as the nautical equivalent of conquering the Everest, only much harder - has never been achieved by an Indian and Donde`s arrival at Stanley (population 2,115) is keenly awaited.

Donde, 42, has sailed through torrid seas in his sailboat `Mhandei`, particularly below 60 degrees latitude, famous among sailors for winds known as the Roaring 40s, Fearsome 50s and Screaming 60s.
Donde, who was flagged off by Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta Aug 19, 2009, has the luxury of only four stops - Fremantle (Australia), Christchurch (New Zealand), Stanley (Falkland Islands) and Cape Town (South Africa).

Large crowds gathered to greet him at the two ports where he has called so far, and a warm reception by senior commanders of both the Indian and British navies awaits Donde at Stanley, naval source said.

Donde`s feat is as much a tribute to his sailing skills and endurance as it is to the expertise of British seamen: Sir Robin Knox Johnston, known as the `Grand Old Daddy` of ocean sailing after two solo circumnavigations, has guided the project from the start.

From boat construction to training and route planning - even helping Donde out by phone during his sail, Johnston`s support has been described as "invaluable".


First Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 17:29

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