It is true perhaps that, ‘life is not smooth sailing’, but Katya Coelho has defied all the odds and championed sailing by bagging 15 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals in national and international championships. She made history by becoming the first and only Indian sailor to represent India at the Youth Olympics in 2014. She also represented India at the Asian games in 2018. She is also the first Indian woman to compete and win an international medal in the IQFoil category that was recently held in Pattaya, Thailand. Apart from windsurfing, let’s find out more about her life.

Congratulations on winning the international prize. Windsurfing is such a rare sport, please tell us more about it and what led you to decide that you want to become a windsurfer?

I am genuinely grateful, although not popularly seen everywhere, windsurfing is growing its shoots in the water sports circle recently. I have been doing windsurfing from the age of 11. Primarily, I was introduced to this sport by my father, who is a national windsurfer himself, and seeing my brother also doing it, I developed keen interest and took this sport like a fish takes to water. I remember as a kid I used to eagerly watch my father sailing amongst the sea waves in his tournaments. However, I never looked at windsurfing through the lens of taking it forward professionally as a career. It was always a hobby for me, and I used to enjoy doing it in our summer holidays. Though I was fearful at first, but gradually with rigorous training and consistent practice, I develop strong roots and got better at doing it. Over time, I did not realise when my passion had become my profession.

Goa is a dream destination for so many youngsters, how is it to live in a tourist city? Tell us more about your lifestyle.

Goa is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India, as it is abode to scenic beaches, historic monuments and churches, fusion cuisine, nightlife, thrilling water activities and a lot more. Being born and brought up here in the coastal belt, feels such a bliss to me. Also coming from this place turned out to a plus factor for my career, where it took shape.

Speaking of my lifestyle, apart from windsurfing, I am also a designer. For anybody who is into sports or otherwise it is important to have an active lifestyle that can keep you energetic, focused and calm. Therefore, I go to the gym in the morning as well as in the evening for my workout. After workout, whatever time I have, I devote it to my mom’s boutique, where we design together. Also, I am a freelancer who does logo branding. So whenever I am not too occupied I also love to design logos for my clients.

Also, my routine changes according to the weather conditions. In summer time, when the sea is calm, I spend most of my time outdoors in training myself. In monsoon, although I stay indoors, I go to the gym to keep myself fit. Most of my days are occupied with training and work, but I like to plan my days to keep myself organized. I feel blessed that every day I get to do the things that I love.

You have recently won a medal in an international competition. We would love to hear your experience.

This time, I went to Thailand. Also, this was the 10th time I visited this beautiful place. (Laughing) It feels like a second home to me, where I always look forward to coming back, either for training or for competition. With a scared and skeptical mind set, I just went to get professional training and experience.  

In my opinion, every competition teaches you something and gives you an opportunity to better yourself. You also get to learn a lot from other competitors coming from different countries. I stayed there for 23 days and I believe I have levelled much more as a windsurfer. This is because I got to train with several athletes who have mastered this sport. In India, there are a few windsurfers, however, they are scattered which makes it difficult to train with them on daily basis. In Goa, I can only practice with my brother and father which makes my learning limited.

Every sportsperson has a role model who guides him/her throughout their journey, who is that person in your life and why?

For me, apart from my father and brother, I took inspiration from Indian female athletes, such as cricketer, Mithali Dorai Raj, and weightlifter, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu. In windsurfing, I would like to specially mention Spanish Olympian, Marina Alabau Neira and Dutch Olympian, Lilian De Geus, who I follow and look up to.