Ride the wave

Not many careers give you the liberty to bring your passion and profession in one boat.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2014, 01:33 AM IST

Not many careers give you the liberty to bring your passion and profession in one boat. Patricia Mascarenhas peeks into the sailing opportunities on board.

“Sailing has always been considered as a fancy, glamorous and expensive affair meant to do on a foreign holiday,” says Akhil Mahesh, member, Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre (INWTC). No longer though, as more people are beginning to realise, that anyone can sail and that it is possible to both learn and pursue the sport as a career, at an agreeable cost. “Sailing and yachting have been gaining momentum in India over past eight years. Quite a few sailing tournaments are now being held,” informs Sagar Hawaldar, president, Bay Island Yacht Club. Jimmy Nadar, co-owner, Gateway Sailing Club agrees, “The number of new boats and yachts that arrive in our country every year is on a high of 10 per cent,” he says.

The perks that this career brings along, makes it much more attractive. Imagine getting paid to do what people do for a holiday. “Once I started taking sailing seriously, I traveled to different places to attend clinics held by experienced coaches and formed teams to participate in competitions internationally,” says Vishnu Sujeesh, sailor and member of Yachting Association of India (YAI).

Not many people have the opportunity to do what they enjoy every day. “Outdoor exposure, meeting new people every day from school kids to college student to MD`s and CEO of multinational companies, physical fitness and a lot more are added bonuses that come with the sport,” says Mahesh.

However, the career growth in sailing is no different from other fields. “Sailing is about experience so one definitely needs training,” advises Sujeesh. Abhishek Mhatre, internationally certified commercial yacht captain and operations manager, Aquasail agrees, “It’s all about safety when you are on water- personal and customer safety. You are entrusted with peoples’ lives,” he says.

Just like the ocean, sailing also has its ups and downs. “Every day you have new challenges, in terms of the tide, wind, current and the climate,” warns Nadar. Apart from that, another obstacle is the lack of infrastructure in India which makes it difficult for those pursuing this field. “More people mean more boats, more boats means more sailing; more sailing means more investment by the government in promoting the sport, which is very low here,” says Mhatre.

The current market may not seem lucrative for aspirants. But those willing to sail their careers through rough waters are sure to be rewarded. “Trainees may expect a salary of Rs 5 to 10k per month, junior instructors Rs 10 to 15k and senior instructors may earn up to Rs 50k,” says Mhatre. Nadar adds, “An entrepreneur may make anything between Rs 100,000 – Rs 300,000 per boat.” Hawaldar informs that now-a-days even skilled newcomers get about 25,000/ month.

Despite the highs and lows, anyone who shows interest and is dedicated to take sailing as a full time career is likely to find a way to succeed. “Seventy per cent of this planet is water... so just imagine the job opportunities,” concludes Mhatre.

The Sailor

Sailing has been perceived to be a rich person`s sport but it’s actually meant for everyone, says Ayesha K Lobo, captain of India`s all-women sailing team and co-founder, Lsails.

My journey as a sailor began when I was 11, when my dad’s friend took me out sailing for the first time. We went on a boat called the Lighting; I was completely taken in by the whole atmosphere of the wind in my hair, water spraying on my face and the feeling of complete freedom out on the water. The next day I made my dad enroll me in the sailing class.

I sailed the Optimist class of boat, (meant for kids in the age group of 8-10) for two years and once my instructors thought I was ready, they introduced me to the competitive world. Initially, I had a hard time but as the years went by, I got better with every championship. After that, I sailed the Laser radial, 420, Hobie, 29ner, J24 (match racing), Enterprise, etc; and in every championship entered, I won a medal.

As an instructor one needs dedicated training especially since one has to impart knowledge to the novices in this. I have been racing in India and for India for the past eight years and been training my women’s teams for three years, so instructor training has helped me get my basics right. The training I did was the YAI instructor-training course, which teaches you how to conduct theory classes and practical classes.

Being a water sports related career, any change in climate or weather is always an issue. But doing something you love and getting paid for it is always fun. My day begins with a sunrise sail into the open waters and it ends with a peaceful sunset sail with a variety of people on board. Sailing as a career has a good output, the pay package can be anywhere from 40,000/- to 40,00,000/- a month it all depends on what your company pricing is and marketing.

Aspiring sailors should first work to see how things are, learn the trades of the field properly, get your acts in order then only start something of their own. Working in a sailing company can be fun and boring at the same time. It’s a great sport to get into and career wise you might get a little tanned but it’s totally worth it.

-As told to Patricia Mascarenhas

Sail A Ton

Aquasail: www.aquasailindia.com

Gateway Sailing Club: www.gatewaysailingclub.com

Yachting Association of India: www.yai.org.in

Lsails (Discover Sailing India): www.facebook.com/DiscoverSailingIndia/info

Royal Bombay Yacht Club: www.rbyc.co.in