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Sails have been used to move boats for thousands of years and their use was closely linked to the expansion and prosperity of nations. Beyond its practical purposes in transport however there has always been a sporting quality of sailing and the title ‘Sport of Kings’ can easily be bestowed upon it for its popularity and owing to its royal connection right from the beginning.

Unfortunately, but for pleasure sails with competent Yachtmen at the helm, I have never participated in sailing. My younger brother Govind did not have interest in ‘Bridge’ like my father and I did and since we spent from May to October in Nainital he developed interest in sailing and in 1955 acquired “Stellla” Yacht Number 7. It was Purely a matter of good fortune that along with the yacht we got Mohan Singh, the paid hand with the best talent and potential. Govind had to compete with sailing stalwarts of the like of Giriraj singh,Daju,Dharamvir, P.L.Sah, Dipi Majithia and Sita Nanda and was only occasionally on the winner’s stand, It brought our family into the social like of the sailing community,which was a privilege.

My son Arvind took keen interest in sailing as a boy of tenand seeing more potential in him Mohan Singh trained him assiduously. Govind won his last race with Arvind as crew and Arvind his first race with Govind as crew. Arvind went on to become one of the most proficient sailors on the lake and had been competition form Dipi Majithia, Sita Nanda, Shakti Prasad,Afsar Husain and later form Vikram Nanda who became equally proficient.

The decade between 1870 and 1880 may be termed the Golden Age of Yachting. Of races there was a plethora;indeed no less than 400 matches took place in 1876, as against 63 matches in 1856. The sport too was better regulated, and was conducted on a uniform system: the Yacht-Racing Association, established in 1815, drew up a simple code of laws for the regulation of yacht races,which was accepted by the yacht clubs generally throughout the world.

My younger son,Mukund also developed a keen interest in sailing under the training of Mohan Singht and is the youngest sailor to win a race on this lake at the age of eleven. He has not quite come up to Arvind’s standard and at present both are active sailors of the Nainital yacht Club. My grandsons Nikhil Poddar and Vibhas also sail whenerver they can crew for Arvind or mukund.

It makes me a little sad to note the loss of general interest in sailing and the introduction of a commercial touch. Not hardly anyone sails for the love of the sport and we have very few sails in the monsoons. It is a sport which has added greatly to the sporting and social life of Naini-Tal and our family has been privileged to be actively involved.

May sailing always remain a part of Nainital !


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