Six Indian Navy women who are circumnavigating the globe in a 17-metre sailboat, the INSV Tarini, docked at the V&A Waterfront last Friday, March 2.
Pupils of St Paul’s Primary School in Bo-Kaap were among those who welcomed them on their last stop during their 21600 nautical mile trip.
The women are on a seven-month long journey which started in Goa, India, stopping at various locations such as Fremantle in Australia, Lyttelton in New Zealand and Port Stanley in the Falklands.
They will leave Cape Town on Wednesday March 14 to cross the equator for a second time and return to Goa.
On their arrival crew members were welcomed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, the SA Navy, High Commissioner of India to South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj and Capetonians. The day coincided with the Indian festival of Holi, which involves throwing colourful powder at each other.
The INSV Tarini was built in January 2017 incorporating techniques from the INSV Mhadei, an iconic Indian Navy sailing boat,as part of the Indian government’s policy to encourage companies to manufacture their goods in India.
A photo exhibition has also been set up at the Royal Cape Yacht Club at the Table Bay Harbour to mark the occasion. Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, the skipper, gave Ruchira Kamboj, High Commissioner of India to South Africa, a tour of the exhibition.
Ms Kamboj said: “Gender does not define potential. To me more than anything else these girls simplify strength, courage and bravery. Why is bravery not expected of girls? Why are we so surprised when women do tough jobs well? The destruction of self confidence begins perhaps with parents, they tell their daughters watch out, be careful. Let’s stop telling our girls don’t do this, instead let’s encourage our girls from baby steps to be strong.”
The Indian Navy women, Lieutenant Commander Pratibha Jamwal; Lieutenant Patarapalli Swathi;Lieutenant Aishwarya Boddapati; Lieutenant Payal Gupta; and Lieutenant Vijaya Devi, come from all around India and never imagined being part of the Indian Navy. They joined as volunteers and all ended up enjoying it.
Lieutenant Commander Joshi said they are lucky to have not picked up any infections or had serious injuries on their way.
Lieutenant Swathi, commenting on a question raised about people at home being gender-biased, said: “Never have I heard any one of my host mates saying that, they rather say I wish I was a girl and I can replace you.”
Shama Nathoo, SA Sailing WC Chairperson of Women and Girls, said the sporting code’s aim is to make sailing accessible to every woman and girl in our country.
“Our former President Nelson Mandela showed us how sports unites people, nations and the world. The Tarini crew making history is living proof of women empowerment and as the High Commissioner of India so beautifully put it, the Nike ad says ‘just do it’, the Tarini girls did it.
“The crew serves as an encouragement to all women and girls out there that there is no limit to what we as women can achieve.”