An Epic Circumnavigation by Sail Comes to an End

January 10, 1987

A major transportation milestone for India was achieved when the nation’s first crew to sail around the world completed their ambitious journey, returning to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) 470 days after leaving from there. All 10 of the crew members were from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers. The vessel they used for circumnavigating the globe was a yacht called Trishna, which means “to thirst for” in the Sanskrit language. Originally named Guinevere of Sussex, the 36.5-foot (11.1-meter)-long yacht had been built by the Finnish manufacturer Nautor’s Swan and was purchased second-hand by the Indian Army Corps of Engineers in the United Kingdom in 1984.

During the westward trip of approximately 30,000 nautical miles (55,560 kilometers), six of the 10 crew members were on board Trishna at any one time. The four who sailed on the yacht throughout the entire journey were Major K.S. Rao, the skipper; Major A.K. Singh; Captain Sanjeev Shekhar; and Captain Chandrahas Bharti.

The crew of the Trishna, c. 1985.

Trishna’s crew had to contend with several stretches of rough waters and stormy weather conditions, including furious gales that slammed the vessel continuously for five days as she made her way across the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. The crew experienced another brush with disaster when several whales came dangerously close to the yacht a total of three times between Raratonga and Fiji in the South Pacific.

When Trishna finally made it back to Bombay, she and her crew were enthusiastically greeted at the city’s Gateway of India by a large group of people which included General Krishnaswamy Sundarji of the Indian Army. In 2012, India’s postal service issued a stamp commemorating the 25th anniversary of the triumphant return of Trishna. The vessel’s crew was also honored at the time with the Order of Merit by the Ocean Cruising Club, an international organization that formally recognized the round-the-world journey as the first circumnavigation by an Indian yacht.

For more information on the yacht Trishna and her record-setting trip around the world, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trishna_(yacht).

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