CHENNAI: After being on land for more than 130 days, elite sailors in Tamil Nadu are set to return to the water for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown.
Asian Games bronze medallists KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar will resume training in Rameswaram from August 12 after the sporting activities came to a halt on March 25. The Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA) has gotten the permission from the Chennai Port Authority to restart practice after the state government announced late last month that athletes across disciplines, barring swimming, can begin outdoor training.
Ganapathy and Varun will be traveling on their own to train and it will not be like a usual camp conducted by the association. The primary reason to choose Rameswaram — a town situated 600 km away from Chennai — is because of the prevailing coronavirus situation in the city. Sailors felt it is safer to go down south and resume practice where the number of active cases is around 400 as compared to over 11,000 in the state capital.
"Chennai Port has given us the nod to allow our sailors to restart training. The boys felt it's easy to sail in Rameswaram because the number of cases is less there. They are not going to interact with anybody and they are going on their own. So, there is no risk," TNSA president Ashok Thakkar told this newspaper.
Since the duo is travelling within the state, they won't be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they undertake a test for coronavirus before leaving Chennai as per the guidelines of the state government. "We will probably go there any day between August 10 and 15," said Varun. "This is our personal camp. We are doing it in a place that is 25km from Rameswaram. We have a boat here (in Chennai), so we will take it there. The plan is to get ourselves tested for the virus before we go."
Since it's a new location, the sailors want to go there for two weeks and figure out if they are comfortable practising there. If it works out, they will continue it for over a month. "We will go there, do a 15-day camp and come back to Chennai for seven days. Again, we will travel to Rameswaram for 15 days and keep repeating this for some time. We are not sailing in Chennai at the moment because of the number of COVID-19 cases here," added Varun.
(With inputs from Swaroop Swaminathan).