Taramati Matiwade had been a National Athlete throughout her schooling and moved to Mumbai for higher studies when she was seventeen. She joined the National Cadet Corp (NCC) – Navy in 2006 and her passion for sailing started from there! She learned sailing and won several competitions. A consistent sailor, her passion to learn and compete in various classes of boats kept growing with her experience and achievements. Within a short time spam she started participating on the International level. Tara has worked as a sailing coach for the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Bombay Sailing Association and the Colaba Sailing Club, training children from 7 to 15 years in the Optimist class of boats. Tara, having graduated in Business Administration in International Business was keen to combine her business skills along with the sport she loved and that is how the idea of a Yachting Association for Kolhapur came into being.
This dream was also born out of her sense of responsibility for the country, to grow this unique and versatile sport and activity. She established a sailing center at her home town in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India. Why Kolhapur? Being from Kolhapur, she was the only sailor from the district and was adamant to share her experience. She always dreamed of having her own training center and an association. Kolhapur is an inland city and has the popular lake Rankala. The lake is a historic site and is facing problems related to green water algee and pollution. Tara’s aim was to save this water body and utilize it for water sports and sailing activities. The water sports activities in the lake would help oxygenate the water.
Tara aspires to create sports personalities out of the many kids she trains at the lake. It will be a strong message to the city that Lakes can be utilized in a better way and that we should respect our resources and keep our environment clean rather than polluting it. It was challenging to get the government, media and the citizens involved in an activity they know so little of. Even an Olympic level opportunity is overlooked in our society. Yachting or sailing, these words are hardly of any significance to people in India. Tara had to really educate everyone around on what sailing was all about and its various benefits, differentiating sail boats and yachts from normal fun rides on paddle boats in a lake. None were aware that Sailing is an Olympic sport. There were other obstacles like inept government management, dealing with government hierarchy, delayed work processes, political forces, social and financial challenges to kick start an organization which offered opportunities in sailing at affordable costs.
Being a sailor and a bold personality, Tara took these challenges in her stride. Her greatest support was her family who have always stood by her. “My mother is my back bone in this endeavor”, she says. The Yachting Association of Kolhapur recently conducted their first sailing camp from 21st December to 30th December 2014 at the Rankala Lake Kolhapur. The sailing camp was well received by the people of Kolhapur as it was something totally new and different for them. Print and TV media played a huge role in promoting the game and spreading the sport to the people. Many participants were only visitors to Kolhapur, residing in the city on vacation. They now consider sailing a huge opportunity that is accessible now in Kolhapur. Over 30 candidates from Kolhapur learned how to sail during the camp. It was a great moment to see local support and tremendous spectator turn-up at the venue. Rankala lake can be compared to the Hussain Sagar Lake or Marine Drive in Mumbai which has a beautiful road along the water body. People took drives around the lake especially during the Sailing camp.
Tara wants more and more people to be exposed to the game and the activity. Sailing being such a beautiful and adventurous sport has yet to reach the people in India. Tara has seen sailors who are passionate about the sport, establish recreational and training centers only once they retire from their regular jobs and posts. She decided not to wait for another 20-30 years and become an inspiration to all those who wish to start sailing clubs in various inland water bodies and along the fabulous and untapped coast of India.
We at India Yacht Page wish her the best, bon voyage Tara, for all your future endeavors!