Image Credits: @SachinGanesh
Over the years Chennai has produced a treasure trove of young sailing talents, and 15-year-old Sachin Ganesh seems to be forged from the same furnace.
We dream of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, an actor and so many different things when we are growing up and in our adolescent years. With the passage of time and changing priorities, our dreams change too.
But Sachin Ganesh has a different story to tell. He is just 15 and has already figured it all out. This young lad from Chennai is the youngest sailor to win a gold medal in senior sailing in the recently concluded YAI Senior National 2021, in Mumbai.
The 15-year-old student from Bala Vidya Mandir has been a sports lover since he was a kid—but it wasn’t until 2014 when his father saw a newspaper cutting of a summer sailing camp and decided to enrol both his son and daughter, but little did he know what the future had in store for them.
Sachin first developed an interest in the sport when he saw his sister Ishwarya sailing and thought of giving the sport a try himself. Since then, he has never looked back. Smitten by the sea subsequently, both him and his sister Ishwarya found themselves returning to the harbour to sail every weekend.
It is no surprise for Sachin to see his sister enjoying success in the sport as well, having been impressed by her ability as they grew up training and sailing together. Sachin also believes that time spent sailing and training together helped them to develop their talents and set them on the path to professional sailing.
The young lad has risen through the ranks since then and currently finds himself ranked No.1 in the country for the new Olympic class.
The teenager has accumulated many medals under his belt. He is the youngest to win a Gold Medal in Senior Sailing History in India and also the first to introduce IQ Foil Olympic class Sailing in India. He is also the only sailor who had participated in Junior, Youth and senior classes in a single year.
Here’s a list of his awards:
2021 YAI senior nationals, Mumbai (Asian games trial -1) IQ Foil Olympic Class Gold medal- 01/09/2021
2019 75 knots regatta, Goa RSX overall 11th – 09/10/2019
2019 Hyderabad sailing week RSX overall 14th 02/07/2019
2019 All India Board Sailing Championship, Goa RS ONE overall 4th - 15/05/2019
2019 All India Board Sailing Championship, Goa RSX Youth - 18/05/2019 Bronze medal
2019 Junior coastal multiclass Regatta, Marve RS ONE overall 5th- 27/04/2019
2019 India International regatta, Chennai RS ONE overall 5th- 02/01/2019
2018 Youth Nationals, Chennai RS ONE overall 5th- 25/12/2018
2018 Wet and Wild regatta, Pavana TECHNO 293 overall - 15/08/2018 Silver Medal
2018 All India Board Sailing Championship, Goa TECHNO 293 overall 4th- 09/05/2018
2018 Asian Windsurfing Championship, Singapore TECHNO 293 overall 6th- 17/02/2018
2018 Goa Sailing Week, TECHNO 293 overall 4th- 10/01/2018
2017 Raja Bhoj multiclass sailing championship, Bhopal OPTIMIST overall 30th-18/08/2017
2017 Monsoon Regatta, Hyderabad OPTIMIST overall 25th- 26/07/2017
2017 Telangana State regatta, Hyderabad OPTIMIST overall 27th- 22/07/2017
2016 Yai Youth Nationals, Chennai OPTIMIST overall 26th- 15/12/2016
2016 Monsoon Regatta, Chennai OPTIMIST overall 14/07/2016
2016 Telangana State regatta, Hyderabad overall best under-10 years best sailor and youngest
Sailor Award winner - 05/07/2016
2015 India International Regatta, Chennai OPTIMIST boys overall bronze medal - 24/11/2015
2015 Monsoon Regatta, Hyderabad OPTIMIST overall best under-10 years sailor and the youngest.
The 15-year-old recognises the magnitude of the opportunity which has been afforded to him and will be hoping to build off his impressive amateur career and turn it into success in the pro ranks, and he certainly pulled no punches when talking to us through his ambitions for the future.
Hello Sachin, we are delighted to interview you, you have recently won a gold medal in men’s IQ-Foil event, which will be part of the 2024 Paris Olympics. It’s such an adventurous sport that comes with a big challenge and I think that’s such an accomplishment was very heart-warming to know, considering you’re very a young sailor from Tamil Nadu who is also one of the most exciting competitors to watch in the state/country. Let’s begin with the basics, what does sailing mean to you?
Adventure. I was always inspired to push myself while immersing myself in nature. Being in the sea and going on an adventure is imperative to my mental and physical well-being. It is less expensive than therapy, and more fun.
Can you tell us about your first-ever sailing experience? What inspired you to become a sailor? You could have chosen other sports too, why sailing and how did you discover the sailing passion?
I always loved playing different sports growing up. I had no idea about sailing, it was my father who told us (me and my older sister to try sailing. Me and my sister grew up as a two. Obviously, my older sister Ishwarya started first and then it just passed its way down. I started sailing and we all used to sail together during weekends and over time we all gradually got better. Only after winning two cups in the monsoon Regatta 2015, I decided to take it more seriously and there was looking back since then.
Do you have a sailor you particularly like?
Yes, and his name is Kiran Badloe, Netherlands Olympic Gold medallist. He is also the winner of the past three RS:X World Championships.
As a young sailor, who were some of the people that you looked up to for guidance? Who were the people you would speak with to get better at sailing?
There is an abundance of role models and people to look up to involved in my path so far and a couple of people who had a significant impact on my development were my dad and Indian Army senior windsurfer Jerome Kumar. The lovely thing about having a father who completely understands the highs and lows of sports and as a result can help you through the lows.
What’s the toughest aspect of being a sailor and what do you enjoy the most about it?
The toughest aspect being with the dry sea breeze sailors would easily dehydrate and the only way to overcome is to with good fitness. And what I love about sailing is it’s a chance to push myself and go as fast as I can. I hope sport continues to grow in the country.
Are you ever scared when you’re on the sea? How do you tackle that fear?
You really don’t know what’s beneath your feet in the sea. You cannot do really about that, but only get used to it. I learned how to deal with intense discomfort. I learned that I can have a headache and be in so much pain and still perform well.
What will be your snack of choice on the trip?
Chocolate and crunchies.
Besides sailing, what’s your favourite sport?
To this point, what's been your best moment or favourite moment in sailing? What’s the one thing that you are most proud of?
First to launch IQ Foil in India, which is an Olympic class sailing
First junior sailor in India to win Senior national title
Only sailor who had participated in Junior, Youth and senior classes in a single year.
Do you have a favourite sailing/seamanship movie?
Life of Pi
If you could sail anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to go to Europe and sail there.
What lies ahead for you this year, and are there any specific tournaments or championships you are training for at the moment?
I have to win more medals and I have a long way to go. My immediate goal is to do well in the Asian Techno Championship in Oman in October and Asian Games qualifier in Goa in November.
What are your long-term sailing goals? What are your dreams in your career?
I want to continue to play professional foil sailing in the future. My future plans are to further improve so I can become a top sailor in the country and participate in the Asian Beach Games 2022, Asian Youth Games, China 2022, Asian Games, China 2022 and qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.