In a first for India, Salil Chaturvedi, a paraplegic, set sail from Mumbai to Goa, covering a distance of approximately 240 nautical miles over eight days.
‘The Freedom Sail’ sailed-off from Mumbai on November 24, 2009 and arrived in Panjim, Goa, on December 2, 2009, on the eve of the World Disability Day.
Salil Chaturvedi, along with a crew of three, was sailing the Bombay Harbour Seabird, a 21-feet sloop type of sailing boat, designed in 1920 by Derrick Morgan Giles, an English naval architect – manufactured to international standards by West Coast Marine Yacht Services. Salil was accompanied by Umaji Chowgule, a Goa-based industrialist and a keen sailor who has initiated Salil to sailing; Shaunik Chaturvedi, Salil’s cousin, who left a corporate career to follow his dream of becoming a commercial pilot; and Salil’s wife, Monika.
The boat is fitted with a specially designed seat, to provide crucial shock absorption and support for Salil’s back. Developed by Raj Kapoor of Performance Auto in Noida, the seat is essentially a modified rally-car seat contoured to Salil’s back. “Eight days on the sea with a fractured spine is not going to be easy, I know,” says Salil. “But I’ve practiced hard for it, and I have an able team, without which this would be impossible. Let’s hope that all the preparation will bear its fruit.”
Through the ‘Freedom Sail’, Salil and his team want to call attention to the issue of access for disabled persons and at the same time demonstrate the power of collaborations. “We want to show that magical things can happen with partnerships,” says Salil. “It’s really surprising that in a nation which is trying to become an economic powerhouse, more than ten million of its disabled population find it hard to do the most basic of things such as accessing public places, services, places of leisure, parks or cinema halls. It’s time that this situation changes and that disabled persons are catered for in the process of nation building. Through this sail, I’d like to demonstrate what can be achieved when people join hands.”
Through this sail – it is a testimony that sailing is an activity that surpasses all disabilities – and allows one to set themselves free of any limitations!
West Coast Marine Yacht Services congratulates Salil and his team on their record…and moreover their ever-winning spirit!