Date: Tue 21 Feb 2017

I was inspired by Autissier

By Commander Abhilash Tomy (the only Indian to complete a solo, nonstop, unassisted circumnavigation of the earth under sail)

The NEXA P1 Powerboat Indian Grand Prix of the Seas

The NEXA P1 Powerboat Indian Grand Prix of the Seas

When the immigration officer stamped my passport on arrival in India, my first thought as I stepped onto dry land after circumnavigating the globe alone in 151 days was, simply, when I could start again. But what else could you expect?

I have had such a long and deep meaningful relationship with the ocean, from growing up at the Kochi and Mumbai naval bases and looking at boats as vehicles of adventure, to competing in national and international championships in small and big boats, to transitioning as shore manager for the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race, the ocean has always been to me an abode of adventure.

But it wasn't solely my competitive or adventurous spirit that attracted me to the thought of circumnavigating the world alone. I was inspired by Isabelle Autissier, who gave all the men a run for their money in Around Alone, a round-the-world single-handed yacht race. It made me recognise and respect how level a playing field water is, and how winning on water is not defined by your inherited physical traits, but by strength, skill and grit! It is unfortunate that I am only the second Indian to have circumnavigated the globe, and the only one to have done it without stops. Given the nation's history with sailing and commuting on the seas, the statistics should have been better.History has it noted that the Indian community migrated to Australia as early as 4,000 years ago, as revealed by the gene pool on the continent. We fostered trading relationships with most of Africa, Middle East and Asia through sea. The spread of many religions is also credited to maritime journeys.And then it all changed, when communities started to believe that crossing oceans was taboo, giving us generations of people who have forgotten the joy of the ocean.

I am glad the Grand Prix of the Seas, UIM World Championship event starts in India because we need a case study for our future generations to a sport on water, and to a sport that is gender neutral. Two unique attributes that the Nexa P1 Powerboat, Grand Prix of the Seas can proudly boast of.

*The article first appeared in The Times of India

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