Meet the Crew - Sunil Prabhakar
24 July 2015
Sunil Prabhakar from Chennai (formerly known as Madras), India, will be our first ever Indian round the world crew member when he completes the race next year on board GREAT Britain.
After finishing the four levels of race training, Sunil met with Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian to sail solo around the world in 2010, who is currently in Gosport following his third place finish in the Transatlantic Race with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Find out what advice Dilip gave Sunil on completion of his training and what Sunil is most looking forward to when he starts his round the world adventure just 37 days from now.
Name: Sunil Prabhakar
Occupation: Business owner
Signed up for: Clipper 2015-16 Race, circumnavigation
How did you hear about the Clipper Race and what led you to sign up?
I was keeping track of the Volvo Ocean Race and I thought it would be really cool to do something like that. One day I sat at my computer and googled round the world sailing and came across the race. The day I read that there was an opportunity for a common man like me to do such a thing, I thought it was fantastic and how could I not be a part of it? It was only after I applied and was accepted that I began to think of the practicalities. Once you decide you want to do something you find a way and that’s why I’m here today.
Why did you decide to take part in the full circumnavigation?
From childhood it’s been my dream to sail around the world. I grew up reading books about expeditions and people travelling around the world; stories that built up my fascination. Reading all that and being a sailor it’s a desire that I couldn’t keep myself away from.
I used to sail lasers and small boats in India 25 years ago and am a member of the Royal Madras Yacht Club in Chennai.
How have you found the training?
The first day on my Level 1 was pretty tough with lots of information flowing. Everything you do is new and a learning curve, but then as the week progresses you become more familiar and things start clicking into place.
The training is superb and has been exciting. It takes people with no skills like me and teaches us how to sail and operate a boat in one week. I don’t think we could have learnt so much if the training wasn’t so well structured.
I will always remember my first night watch with the stars and the Milky Way clearly in view; my time on the helm with a spinnaker and the boat doing over 13 knots; my first time crossing the English Channel and seeing the lights of coastal France; and my first mast climb.
Having had Peter Thornton as my Level 1 and Level 4 skipper I am thrilled to have him as our Race Skipper as he is very competent and experienced and I am sure he will keep the team motivated and happy.
Overall the training has been exciting and exactly what I wanted it to be. I am excited and eagerly await Race Start day. I have been dreaming about sailing around the world since I was a teenager and now finally the time has come. I can hardly think of anything else!
What has been the most challenging?
I have found that doing routine tasks on the boat requires a fair amount of upper body strength. It is also challenging to be part of a team to carry out evolutions quickly and efficiently.
I plan on working on my fitness up until the last day as well as keep in touch with the boat systems and layouts so I can contribute both on deck and below.
What are you most looking forward too?I am looking forward to meeting up with my team. We all have the same outlook which is to go out, do our best and win the race. I think we will all be quite compatible.
There are different challenges on every leg and that’s what is so exciting but standing out to me is the Southern Ocean. I never imagined that I could be in the Southern Ocean on a boat.
What has been the highlight so far?
The whole thing has been life changing, I’m acquiring skills I never thought I could have. Meeting Dilip was an inspiration and a great motivating factor for me as he went through great hurdles to build a boat, learn to sail and then take his boat around the world successfully alone. Since no Indian had done it before he faced a lot of negativity and people doubted his ability to complete the mission. Talking to him gave me the confidence that I can do it too.
I hope being the first Indian in the Clipper Race to circumnavigate the world will draw the interest of a lot more Indian people and for them to see that someone like me has done it, that they will want to experience it too.
Meeting with Sunil ahead of his race adventure Dilip Donde says: "Sunil and I have been friends on Facebook for a while now and he was following my circumnavigation. I am very happy that he has decided to sail around the world and wish him all the very best. Since he did not have any background of ocean sailing or own a boat, sailing with the Clipper Race seemed to be the most logical solution. I do hope more people from India follow in his footsteps and take on this challenge in the future.
“When I saw him looking dog tired at the end of his training, I told him that things will only get better as he sails on. I am sure he will enjoy the experience of racing around the world and come back a seasoned sailor with tales to regale his grandchildren with."
If you would like to join Sunil and race the world’s oceans we are now recruiting for the Clipper 2017-18 Race. Please get in touch via the apply section of the website.