Rohini Rau: At The Forefront Of Sailing In India

She is a doctor by profession, a pianist for over 10 years and acts on stage for a theater company run by her mom, Rohini Rau, is one of India’s most successful women sailors and is truly a multifaceted personality. She started sailing at the age of 11 but it was her victory at the Asian Sailing Championship in Mumbai 2004 that prompted her to pursue sailing as a full time career.

Rohini has sailed in different categories and each time she has come out victorious, “I started sailing when I was 11 in the optimist category. Later on I switched to the 420 class and it was in this category that I bagged my first medal at the Asian Championship. But again I had to change the category to Laser radial as my partner discontinued sailing.” Rohini’s journey was not an easy one. She had to fight off many challenges, “My journey was not that easy. It was challenging but at the same time it was fun. I had to balance my studies and sailing as I was simultaneously pursuing my MBBS. My passion for sailing motivated me to strive further and achieve what I wanted to.”

Rohini loves to visit and live in different countries and sail at different places.
“I love sailing in Cascais,Portugal and in Perth, Austrailia. I remember sailing with dolphins in Melbourne. It was a wonderful experience and I will cherish it throughout my life.”  Rohini’s list of awards is endless. She has won 10 gold and 5 silver medals at the National level and has 2 Asian gold medals to her name. She has won the Nationals in the Laser radial class for seven successive years from 2005 to 2011. Also Rohini is the first Indian women to win an International medal in the Laser radial class. She has won a bronze at the Izola Sailing cup in 2009.

She is ranked number 1 in India, 4th in Asia and 135th in the world. Currently she is training in Israel and won the 3rd place in the laser radial women regatta at the Eilat Israli nationals and 2nd at the nationals in Tel Aviv Nationals in the adult category in March and April respectively. Also she is taking part in a few regattas in Europe before the World Championships in Germany in May. It is the last qualifier for the London Olympics in July. “This is the last opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games and I want to make the most of it. If I do qualify I will become the first Indian women to qualify for the Olympics in the laser radial class.”

Rohini is quite worried about the current scenario of sailing in India and believes that if proper facilities are provided to sailors they can take the nation to victory at an international level. She also believes that the lack of proper coaching is responsible for the current slack that the sport is facing. “The government wakes up too late to support us for the Asian games and Olympics. There should be a better long term program for sailors and proper training and coaching facilities should be provided. Also the politics in the federation should be curbed so that genuine talent can get a chance to showcase their skills.” says a Rohini who yearns to see India make a mark on the international front. We all hope that Rohini’s vision comes true and India truly becomes a force to reckon with in the sport of sailing. We wish Rohini all the best and look forward to her becoming the first Indian women to qualify for the Olympics in the laser radial class.

Compiled by Vignesh Iyer

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