“Surfing”, “Kite boarding”, Sailing Regatta, Super bike riding and “Kayaking”. Do these terms ring any bell in your minds? Many of us might be aware of surfing at sea but the other names might sound “Greek and Latin”. Well they too are the names of Adventure water sports.
You might wonder why I should be talking about water sports in globalparavar.com. Well, not many of us know that one of our Muthukulithurai village hosts an annual National Level event in Adventure Water Sports. “Manapad” takes the pride in hosting this annual event and the organizers of this event are the Chennai based couple, Arun & Francina Miranda, who trace their ancestral roots to Manapad in Tuticorin district..
For the last 2 years they have organised this National level event named “Manapad Classic – Sail & Surf Festival”. I got an opportunity to meet Arun Miranda and talk about this event. He spoke in detail about their passion towards Manapad, Adventure water sports and community work at large. Honestly, I was never aware that these sports were being organized with such fanfare and that lot of effort has gone towards organizing this event.
I would like to share some of the excerpts which Arun had shared with me during our conversation.
Arun grew up in Chennai. He did his schooling at St. Bede’s in Chennai. Later on he did his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in Marketing & Finance. Francina did her schooling in Holy Cross School in Tuticorin and later completed her M. Sc in Physics and B. Ed. Arun is an Industrialist who has business interests in India, UAE and the USA. Francina ably helps him in his business ventures.
They were based out of Dubai from 1991 to 2012 making frequent visits to Chennai. Post 2012 they moved their corporate base to Chennai, India. Arun makes frequent visits to Europe, US, Korea, Sri Lanka & Dubai as part of his business.
Their connection with Manapad
Though Arun and Francina spent their early life in Chennai and Tuticorin respectively, and later lived abroad for many years, their love for Manapad was always alight within them.. Their involvement with Manapad was very limited until 1995 when they made a visit to their hometown. They were completely mesmerised by the beauty of the beach, churches and homes in Manapad. Owing to their professional commitments they went back to Dubai. But the beauty of our coast and the warmth of our people never left their minds. In 2007, they made another visit to Manapad while visiting Tuticorin to witness Our Lady of Snows feast. Their love for Manapad only grew stronger and they were convinced that they should do something to promote this beautiful coastal hamlet.
Adventure Water sports in Manapad
Arun came across one of his Australian friend who was a professional surfer . He was quite surprised when this guy had talked about Manapad and the fact that Manapad was one of the best locations for Surfing in India. Trying to gather details on surfing he visited one of India’s pioneer surfers in Mangalore, who happened to be the President of the “Surfing Federation of India”. Arun brought this person to Manapad who certified that this beach was an excellent one for Surfing, Stand Up Paddle and Kayaking.
Later, Arun met one of the International Kite Boarding coaches in Mumbai. This person visited Manapad and conducted a detailed survey. He was convinced that Manapad was the best location in India for Kite Boarding and Wind Surfing. Further more, Arun invited members of Tamil Nadu Sailing Association to Manapad in order to inspect the suitability to carry out Sailing in Manapad. They brought a team of sailors and were happy to find that Manapad is indeed an excellent location for Sailing.
An interesting fact is that the world’s best surfing guide called www.magicseaweed.com lists Manapad as one the best surfing sites globally.
The decision to promote Surfing and other Adventure water sports in Manapad became a big challenge for Arun & Francina. With no amenities to support such sporting activities, they were not sure if this was feasible in terms of infrastructure and logistics. The permissions required to conduct such Adventure Water sports also had to be obtained. The local village community has to be taken into confidence and this whole initiative could be successful only if it is a holistic project with the total commitment of the locals.
Water Sports Resort & Homestay:
Their first step was to setup a decent property with proper amenities for athletes and guests to stay in Manapad when they visit this place for Adventure Water sports. They invested in a heritage property which was in a dilapidated condition. This was a Portuguese styled castle built around 1920. They invested a lot of time and effort to renovate this property and covert this into a modern “Homestay” as per International standards. The whole restoration process took almost three years and “Villa de Joseph” was formally opened in the summer of 2010. This property has six well furnished bedrooms, modern wash rooms, two grand halls fitted with finest furniture, audio/video equipments, a dining hall, terrace restaurant, kitchen, spacious garden, library, barbeque set, laundry facility etc.,
Caretakers from local community are available at all times to attend to the needs of the guests. Local and international cuisines are made available to guests throughout their stay.
The next step was to equip the facility with all equipments required to operate a full fledged Adventure Water Sports Resort. This was done with the help of professionals from the industry. A separate entity named “Manapad Surf Resort” was set up to run the Adventure Water Sports activities. Further details on the Water Sports resort and Homestay can be viewed on www.manapad.in
Apart from Adventure Water sports enthusiasts, there are streams of guests from all over India and a few other countries who have now started visiting Manapad. Their keen interest seems to be Heritage tourism, Coastal tourism and Religious tourism. This influx of tourists has nurtured a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the local villagers. The local villagers take these tourists on long drives to other coastal villages and places of historical significance, they act as tour guides, they sell handicrafts like Palm Leaf products etc.
MANAPAD CLASSIC – SAIL & SURF FESTIVAL:
The sudden rise of Manapad as an important Water Sports destination did not go unnoticed in the eyes of the National Water sports community. In order to take Manapad to the International league, Arun & Francina decided to embark on an ambitious plan of hosting a National Level, multi discipline Adventure Sports event in Manapad. However, this looked like a herculean task and they were initially ridiculed by many senior officials due to the sheer remote location and lack of infrastructure in Manapad. But this did not deter Arun & Francina. They worked tirelessly for two years on their dream plan and finally the first edition of this signature event was held on January 9th, 10th & 11th, 2015. This event was a grand success and was hailed as a major breakthrough for India in the world of Adventure Water Sports. This event was covered extensively by National and International media. Over 125 Athletes from various states in India and a few other countries participated in this prestigious event..
The success of the first edition encouraged the organizers to host the second edition in a much bigger scale. The second edition of this event was held on February 12th, 13th and 14th, 2016. This year the number of participants was over 160. The total number of spectators crossed 40,000 and this event was covered by the print and electronic media, both National and International. The success of this event prompted the State government to announce some major infrastructure and Tourism related projects in Manapad. Additional information on the vent can be viewed on www.manapadclassic.com
This Sail and Surf festival covers the following sporting disciplines:
- Stand up Paddle
- Kite Boarding
- Wind Surfing
- Kayaking Race
This is not just an event wherein people from other states and countries participate but it has acted as an eye opener for the local people. Many of our youth have shown interest to participate and learn this sport. Through this initiative our community is equipped with skills that would enhance their livelihood. This has given lots of opportunities for our people in Manapad and the surrounding coastal villages.
How Arun & Francina Miranda’s initiatives has helped Manapad?
- Manapad has been firmly placed as a International tourism destination for Adventure water sports, heritage and religious significance
- The local youth benefit from regular career counseling sessions done by Professionals. This has helped the students to choose the correct career paths after their school education.
- Awards have been initiated for top performers in academics, which has encouraged young students to aspire for higher grades
- The local populace have been educated continuously in proper health and hygiene practices through awareness sessions
- They have trained local boys from Manapad at Surfing and Kite boarding clubs in Chennai. This has provided a job opportunities for our youth at Manapad
- They have helped many technically qualified students get jobs in Chennai or other cities
- They are now working on setting up a Public library in Manapad to benefit the local people
- They are trying to pursue the tourism department to establish a permanent “Public Leisure Boating facility” in Manapad. This would help boost tourism in this coastal village and also generate many jobs
- They have promoted a culture of Social entrepreneurship amongst the local population, which in turn is providing an alternate source of livelihood
I thank him for providing me with so many details about the significance of Manapad. . Finally, I would like to appreciate Mr. Arun Miranda and his family’s efforts to promote Manapad. Best wishes for all your future plans in this regard.
by Anton Niresh