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Could India be a yachting destination?
Taking off from Turkey, an intrepid Dutch yachtsman leads his two dogs and 26 boats on an exploration of the western coast of India
In October last year 26 international sailing yachts set off from Alanya Marina in Turkey with their sights set on India. Past pirate infested waters the yachts crossed the Arabian Sea, past Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Yemen before moving onto Oman and then towards India.
Yachts from Holland, France, the United States, Italy, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and France have covered a total of 5,266 nautical miles as part of the Vasco Da Gama Rally to reach Mumbai, and yesterday set sail to Goa from their mooring off the Royal Bombay Yacht Club for the last leg of their long voyage.
This rally, the ultimate adventure sport, is the brainchild of Lodewijk Brust, also known as Lo, an intrepid Dutch yachtsman who has chartered the coast around India for past 11 years in his yacht Mistral, accompanied by his two dogs.
His "old salts" soulmate in Mumbai is Gautama Dutta, a veteran Indian yachtsman and director of boating company Marine Solutions who is helping the foreign yachts sail on to Cochin where they will shelter for the duration of the monsoons, hoping to inspire some yacht tourism along the western coast of India.
But first "we want to highlight to the governments of Maharashtra and Goa that there is a crying need to develop proper yachting infrastructure like marinas in order to realize the tremendous potential of the coastline of India as an international yachting destination," says Simon Arrol, director at Marina India.
Kochi International Marina, the first in India, opened last week, adding a sea-based adventure tourism feather to the city's cap, which also recently acquired an Indian Premier League team.