Parasailing, jet skiing, river rafting, sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving- adventure water sports might be in their infancy, but they are growing day by day! Get the inside track with someone who is creating his own waves....
Cdr. Arun B. Patil is the head of The National Institute of Water Sports, Goa. He has been a qualified scuba diver for the last 20 years and has participated in various naval sailing and windsurfing championships. Cdr. Patil served as a water sports consultant to ITDC for 1989 to 1992. He has been the project officer for establishing the National Institute of Water Sports at Goa from 1992 to date. He is also an advisor on water sports to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
We caught up with Cdr. Patil to ask him about all things nautical......!!!1) How well developed are adventure sports (water sports in particular) in India?
Considering the potential of the vast coastline of India and the numerous inland water bodies, water sports tourism can be considered to be in its infancy in the country. Only the Indian Navy and the adventure wings of Army, Air Force and other para military forces are actively involved in water sports such as river rafting, sailing and windsurfing. For so long, paddle boating and boat/ water scooter rides were the only water sports that most domestic tourists had experienced. Now however, the scenario is changing rapidly. 2) When did the era of waters sports start here?
It is difficult to date the period when water sports gained popularity in India. River rafting in upper Himalayas is perhaps the most popular water sport in the tourism sector and has been a favourite with foreign as well as domestic tourists in the last 15 years. Scuba diving in Lakshadweep, Andaman and Goa are fast catching up in popularity in the last 5 years. Recreational water related activities like parasailing, jet skiing, fun tow rides have been popular in Goa in the last 8 to 10 years.
3) Could you tell us a little about the NIWS?
The National Institute of Watersports (NIWS) was established at Caranzalem in Panjim, Goa in 1991. The Institute has developed 18 different training programmes covering the entire range of water sports including the technical and management details of running such an organisation. So far, NIWS has conducted 192 courses for 3483 trainees from all parts of the country. The Institute offers consultancy services for conducting feasibility surveys of potential water sports sites as well as the know-how in setting up water sports centres, to the Government and private sector. So far 18 States / private organizations have availed of the consultancy service. Most importantly NIWS has formulated the Safety and Quality norms on behalf of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, copies of which can be obtained free of charge from the Institute. (Address: Project office, Sundial Apartments, A.S. Road, Altinho, Panaji, Goa 403001 or through email: email@example.com). NIWS is the only institute which provides the certification training in Lifesaving Techniques and Powerboat Handling, which is mandatory under the above safety norms.4) Are there a lot of women achievers in the field?
Water sports need skill and not just brute strength. As women are not well exposed to this sport, there are only a few women in this field. Mitalli Kakkar of Lacadives, Mumbai is the best example of a woman water sports entrepreneur. She is an expert scuba diving instructor and owns the diving outfit at Lakshadweep. Sonali Jagtap and Smita Gondkar are the windsurfing and kayaking visiting faculty at NIWS. The bungee jumping outfit at Goa had women jump masters last season. 5) Where in India are water sports most developed?
Different water sports need different water bodies. River rafting is popular around Rishikesh, Manali, Darjeeling and Sikkim. Scuba diving is practised in Andaman, Lakshadweep and Goa. Recreational water sports like jet skiing and parasailing are concentrated in Goa. The soft water related activities like paddle boating and boat rides are available at various inland water bodies. The best examples would be the water centres run by Rajkamal at Khindsi and Ambazari. Drishti Water Sports are scheduled to start a wide range of upmarket water sports at Chowpaty in Mumbai. Among the state run water sports centres, those run by Andhra Pradesh tourism in Hussain Sagar at Hyderabad, MP tourism at Bhopal and Lakshadweep tourism at Kadmat are exceptional. 6) What is the ideal age for a person to start practicing water sports (considering the safety standards )?
The most important and basic requirement is to have self-confidence. Generally 16 years is considered an ideal age for competitive water sport - however most of the water sports are designed in such a way that young children with swimming abilities can be initiated into sailing and scuba diving.7) Does NIWS offer any training? Could you describe the training?
We conduct 18 types of courses, which include basic skill courses in sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking and power boat handling. For water sports professionals we conduct technical courses in Outboat Motor Maintenance and FRP boat repair. Management courses in water sports centre management and entrepreneurship development in water sports are also available. Since the Institute is still at the project stage, we are concentrating on the basic safety related courses of Lifesaving Techniques and Powerboat Handling, but any of the above courses can be conducted on request. By next season a calendar of annual training programmes would be published. Training programmes for larger groups are also conducted outside Goa if the neccessary infrastructure is available. Copies of the information brochure and safety norms in water sports can be obt