Know

Sailing forth into a better life

Mallik Thatipalli | Updated on September 05, 2021

Winning curve: Over the past dozen years, the YCH has produced six national champions, and four state champions   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Yacht Club of Hyderabad isn’t merely producing sailing champions but opening doors of opportunity to disadvantaged children

* Tungara Mahboobi’s life story is similar to that of many others who have made it big in the world of sailing thanks to the efforts of the YCH

* Started in 2009 by Suheim Shaik, a former national-level sailing champion, with just three students and three small boats, the club has grown to represent around 150 students and as many boats

* “The children who come here are very focused as they want a better life for themselves and their families”

***

Till 2014, Gowtham Kankatla was studying in a government school in the shanty town of Rasoolpura, Hyderabad, while his mother — a single parent — worked as a domestic helper to support the family. That was until a team from Yacht Club of Hyderabad (YCH) visited the locality, spotted Kankatla and groomed him to be a sailing champion. Kankatla went on to become a national sailing champion in 2018, and represented India at the sailing World Championship in China the same year.

Durgaprasad joined YCH in 2015, when he was about 10. His mother is a domestic helper while his father works at a photocopying shop. The zeal with which Durgaprasad worked at YCH ensured that he gained admission in the junior fleet of the Navy in 2016; he subsequently joined Kendriya Vidyalaya at INS Mandovi, Goa, along with other sailors from the club. He won the sub-junior nationals in 2017 and bagged a bronze medal at the India International Regatta in 2017, which catapulted him to the position of the highest ranked sailor in the junior category. Durgaprasad was selected for the Asian and the World Championships at Ras Al Khaimah and Thailand respectively in 2017.

Tungara Mahboobi was a wide-eyed 12-year-old when she first walked into YCH for trials. A couple of years later, she had earned the moniker — the ‘Sailing Girl’ — by winning gold in the girls category at Puducherry’s first International Regatta in 2018.

Mahboobi’s life story is similar to that of many others who have made it big in the world of sailing thanks to the efforts of the YCH. Started in 2009 by Suheim Shaik, a former national-level sailing champion, with just three students and three small boats, the club has grown to represent around 150 students and as many boats.

At the helm: Suheim Shaik, a former national-level sailing champion, started the Yacht Club Hyderabad in 2019   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Since its beginning, the YCH has taught over 800 children how to sail, and over 99 per cent of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the past dozen years, the club has produced six national champions, and four state champions, apart from winning 78 medals, and enabling 30 international contenders. It also opened doors for students to gain admission into training schools run by the Armed Forces. Recently, 19 students from the YCH gained admission into the Army and Navy schools where sailing is a criterion for enrolment.

Boat to a better life: Over 800 children have been taught to sail at YCH, and over 99 per cent of them come from disadvantaged circumstances   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

A city with a lake

“Hyderabad has a 150-year-old history in sailing,” points out Shaik. “We are one of the few cities with a huge lake (Hussain Sagar) right in the centre of the city which is accessible to everyone. I wanted to ensure that the common man gets a slice of it,” adds Shaik who has been sailing for over 45 years.

YCH enables children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those studying in government schools get a chance at a better life. It also tries to ensure the kids have stable jobs after they turn 18, so that they can support themselves. It also conducts the annual National Monsoon Regatta — a popular event for the sport in the country — at the Hussain Sagar Lake. In 2019, YCH sailor Preethi Kongara created history by becoming the first girl to win the event.

Shaik (56) shares that the idea behind the club is to enable holistic development. “We work on all aspects from nutrition, education and fitness to confidence and sailing skills.” he says. “The children who come here are very focused as they want a better life for themselves and their families. I only help them shape their dream and advise them to excel at what they do,” Shaik tells BLink. At the recently held World Championships in Italy, three out of the five Indians representing the country were from his club.

In the Asian Championship held in Oman in 2019, out of the 10 sailors representing India, seven were from YCH.

Calling it a vindication of the hard work put in over the years Shaik says: “Sailing is an expensive sport. I have been a sailor, so I know. But when one notices the confidence in the children when they realise they are good, one feels that all the hard work is worthwhile.”

YCH takes care of all the needs of the children including their diet (five meals a day), training regimen and equipment. They are at the camp from 6 am to 7 pm where they undergo intensive training with the best coaches from India and abroad.

Shaik, an alumnus of IIT-Madras, is a voluble votary of opening up waterbodies for sports across the country. He asserts, “Sailing is a green sport which doesn’t consume fossil fuels and is very non-invasive. We have a number of waterbodies in our country and should make use of them.”

With students from the club going from strength to strength, Shaik, quite literally the wind behind their sails, hungers for more. “We have great talent, all we need is better facilities and access to those facilities by everyone. A little motivation at the right time will take these children a long way.” On top of his list right now is an Olympic medal!

Mallik Thatipalli is a journalist based in Hyderabad

Published on September 05, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.