Mangalore dweller Tanvi Jagdish became the pride of India by winning the National Stand-up paddleboarding competition for six consecutive times and becoming part of the first Indian team to participate in an international Paddleboarding contest. She is also the first professional female paddleboarder in the Country.
“My mother is proud of my achievements now. It astonishes her that I paddle kilometres into the sea,” says Tanvi.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or paddling is different from traditional surfing through the basic principle remains the same. In paddling, you stand on a broad surfboard and propel yourself using a paddle as opposed to traditional surfing in which you sit until a wave comes along.
As a 9-year-old growing up in the coastal city of Mangaluru, Karnataka, Tanvi Jagadish would spend her holidays with her grandparents in nearby Mulki.
Her late grandfather used to travel extensively and would tell Tanvi stories of what he saw. He had noticed women paddleboarders on one such trip to Maldives and Fiji. He came back home and told Tanvi to try paddling and surfing at the Mantra Surf Club in Mulki, a two-minute walk from their house.
“I did not know how to swim and my mom was against the idea of swimming or surfing. So initially, I used to paddle and surf without telling my parents,” says Tanvi.
“I could not hide my tanned face after a point so I opened up to my parents about discovering surfing. My mother was scared of the ocean and it took a long time to convince her that this is what I wanted to do with my life,” she adds.
Her mother eventually came around to Tanvi going to the beach but was still apprehensive of her taking up the sport professionally.
“They thought that my focus should be on education. My mom used to worry about my appearance since I was tanned and had flyaway hair due to all the surfing. She feared I would get hurt. But I saw no choice. I had found the first love of my life,” says Tanvi.
After Tanvi discovered surfing and paddleboarding, she decided to dedicate her time to learning nuances of the sport. She credits her success to her first coach Shamanth Kumar, a surfing instructor at the Mantra Surf School.
“I get into the water after yoga and meditation. I also run on the beach, do long-distance paddling in the sea and I am in the water for a few hours every morning and evening. I lose track of time when I am in the water so I can’t tell you exactly how long,” says Tanvi.
“The lack of funding is a problem. Being an individual athlete, I really wish the government would help. I spend a lot of time focusing on sponsorship which I could utilize for training. It would be good if we did not have to think about sponsorship because we are playing for the country,” she adds.
She wants to help other girls get into sports and along with her career, she teaches surfing and paddleboarding at the Mantra Surf Club to girls who aspire to learn this. She says, Indian men dominate sports in the country, I want to show that girls belong in the sea.