Cadets sailing in the river Brahmaputra Credit: EastMojo image

Tinsukia: The NCC directorate (North-Eastern Region) has set a record with the sailing expedition on river Brahmaputra that its 60 cadets — including 10 girl cadets from Assam — and two captains of Indian Navy created entering the Limca Book of Records as first and longest sailing expedition in this category in the country.

The record attempt was made on October 16 last year when three sturdy whaler sailing boats of the Naval NCC unit was flagged off by additional director general of NCC (NER) Maj Gen Bipin Bakshi in Assam’s Biswanath district.

Picture of Limca Book of Records

Describing the success a rare event, Maj Gen Bakshi told this correspondent that this was a major challenge as it involved navigating a very difficult river with hidden eddies and currents. “No agency had ever ventured out on the mighty Brahmaputra in a sailing boat which has no engine or motor. The expedition was done as a maiden attempt to tame this river using only sails and oars,” he said.

“In 1988, I had planned a similar sailing expedition which could not be undertaken. Having been in active sailing since 1983, I was aware about all major sailing expeditions undertaken in India,” Maj Gen Bakshi said, adding, “Hence, I felt, the cadets and officers who accompanied them and braved the waters of mighty Brahmaputra deserved the honour and we claimed this record, and were given the recognition of a national record after due analysis by Limca Book of Records.”

Picture of sailing expedition

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Crossing an obstacle course, learning swimming and adventure activities help the youth to overcome their fears and inhibitions. “We build confidence in cadets by taking them through such challenges,” Maj Gen Bakshi added, underling the importance of the sailing expedition that ended on October 25.

The expedition — Lachit-1 — aptly named behind Ahom general Lachit Borphukan who led the battle of Saraighat and defeated the Mughal army in 1671, was flagged in by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at Pandu Port in Guwahati after it sailed for nine long days covering a distance of almost 210 km.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal flagging in the expedition at Pandu Port in Guwahati

Maj Gen Bakshi said, “These motivated cadets are now confident of undertaking any challenge in life, as they succeeded in this pioneering venture.”

The cadets have learned that the team work is most critical in such an expedition and we’re able to realise their own hidden potential,” said Maj Gen Bakshi and added: “What seems impossible was made possible through meticulous preparation and extensive training which we ensured.”

The Eastern Command of Indian Army provided safety and support vessels to the expedition team.

The Eastern Command of Indian Army provided safety and support vessels to the expedition team

Speaking with EastMojo, deputy group commander NCC Col Rajeev Verma said, “The expedition touched the riverine areas of Tezpur, Silghat, Singri, Kathali, Palaguri, Titimara, Kurua and Amingaon.”

“All the cadets selected for the event had undergone extensive preparation including rigorous seamanship training along with swimming, rescue and safety drills, first aid and maritime communication during the conditioning camps in Guwahati and Sivasagar,” Col Verma said, adding: “Despite the grueling journey, the smiles and sparkles in the eyes of the deeply tanned cadets at the culmination point was an indicator to the satisfaction of the hard work to achieve a task.”

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