Published: 04th September 2019
Chennai-based sailor Vishnu Sujeesh tells us how he stumbled upon the field of sailing and his journey so far
Vishnu represented India in international competitions such as the Asian Sailing Championship, IODA Asian Championship and the ISAF Sailing World Cup
They say time and 'tide' wait for none. That couldn't be truer for twenty-year-old Vishnu Sujeesh, a competitive sailor from Chennai. Every time he wants to train, he has to wait for the right winds and when it's right, he often has to drop everything else and head to sea. But once he's on his boat, with the wind on his face and the halyard in his hands, it's like the rest of the world slowly disappears.
Today, Vishnu Sujeesh has undoubtedly earned a name for himself in the field of sailing. With almost eleven years in the field, Vishnu has been part of several national and world championships. But unlike most sailors, Vishnu's entry into the sport was quite accidental. "Nobody in my family was even remotely related to sailing. I got to know about sailing through a family friend. The father was part of the navy and the kids were sailing champions and during our get-togethers, they would talk about sailing and that's how I got interested. I was just nine at the time," says Vishnu. It's been eleven years since.
When asked why the sport wasn't that popular in India, Vishnu says, "It is actually quite disappointing considering the huge coastline we have. There are so many things that can be done, but aren't, simply because of the lack of awareness. We're also lucky that we don't have cold winters, the water bodies don't freeze. We can sail and have other water activities throughout the year." That reminds him of one of his most challenging races. "In 2011, at the World Championships in New Zealand, it was really cold. The second we got wet, we were freezing and had a really difficult time," he recalls.
"In sailing, wind is most important. It's like fuel to the car. We can't decide when we want to go and train. It's not upto us. It's completely upto how the weather is. That gets difficult sometimes, because I can't plan my day. By the time the sea breeze sets in, it's usually noon and I have to finish training by then and also finish college work. So it's a little difficult to manage studies and sport. But my college has been extremely supportive," says the Mechanical Engineering student from SSN Institutions, Chennai.
Another main challenge is that the sport is expensive mainly because the boats have a single manufacturer. There are no spares of international quality that are made here. Everything is imported. However, Vishnu admits that there are various clubs that support and provide opportunities to those who can't afford it.
"Sailing is not an easy sport," says Vishnu. "So don't lose hope. Everyday might not be the same. This sport requires a lot of physical and mental strength. You have to have endurance."