Varsha Gautham (16 years) and Aishwarya Neduchezian (18 years), scripted a piece of sailing history in the Incheon Asian Games by becoming the first ever Indian women to win a Bronze Medal for India at the 17th edition of the Asian Games on 30th Sep 2014. Varsha Gautham also made it to the history books by becoming the youngest athlete from India amongst the medal winners at this Asian Games.
Thanking Admiral RK Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff and President, Yachting Association of India, Varsha and Aishwarya said that it was the leading role played by Indian Navy in promoting yachting in India that had made it possible for them to achieve this feat. Varsha recalled the opportunity she had to visit INS Tarangini, the first sail training ship of the Indian Navy in 2005 during its visit to Chennai that led to her taking up the sport.
Varsha and Aishwarya also thanked the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt of India, the Sports Authority of India, the Yachting Association of India and the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association for the key role played by each of them in their winning this medal. They also thanked their coaches Peter David Conway from UK and Captain Amish Ved a Jet Airways pilot, without whom this would not have been possible.
Both of them drew the attention of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports for the immediate need for setting up of a ‘Sailing Centre of Excellence’ in partnership with Indian Navy and State Govt. This Centre must have state of the art facilities which are tailored to the specific needs of the sport and should be located at a site with direct access into the sea. They felt that such a facility would not only prove to be an asset for the nation but also help in winning more medals at the future sailing events at the Asian Games and Olympics.
The team is now looking forward to qualifying for the Olympic 2016 in the 49er FX Class.
About the Yachting Association of India
The Yachting Association of India was formally constituted on 15 May 1960 and was registered under the Societies Registration Act XXVI of 1961 on the 22 December 1964 at Calcutta, West Bengal. The YAI is affiliated to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the governing authority for sailing worldwide.
The YAI is also officially recognised by the Indian Olympic Association and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India as the governing authority for sailing, windsurfing, motor boating, powerboat racing and personal watercraft, at sea and on inland waters in India. As such the YAI is responsible for promoting the sport in the country, developing and training of judges, umpires and other administrators of the sport and representing the sailors in all matters concerning the sport. There are currently 55 clubs affiliated to the YAI, spread over the various parts of the country.
The YAI is headed by Admiral RK Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff as its President and Lt Gen Rajiv Bhalla, the DGMT, Indian Army is the Vice President of the Association.
(Text and photos by Ministry of Defence, New Delhi)