Dive into Yachting | Sunday Observer

Dive into Yachting

As the designation ‘water sports instructor’ is quite novel to our country we thought of talking to Ramesh about the industry, the hardships as well as the intricate qualities a person should posses if he/she is interested in becoming a thriving water sports instructor.

How would you describe the water sports industry?

It is becoming very popular in the world. Especially in European countries. And yes, it is a fast-growing industry as well. Although it has so much of demand in the world there aren’t enough people taking to being water sports instructors, as a career. In fact, I am the only Sri Lankan working as a trainer on this Yacht. I believe that this is one of the best industries for us to invest in as a country, because we have all the natural resources to do so.

Is there potential to develop water sports as an industry in Sri Lanka? If so, what areas need improvement?

Of course we have a great potential. But we need to go step by step. First of all there has to be regulations for water sports. I seriously think that the authorities should pay attention to this. Not all diving centres are up to the required standards. For example I have seen some of the fins broken, if you are diving with a broken fin then that is very dangerous. People go diving when they are drunk, tipsy/high. I have also seen rusty diving bottles and torn diving suits which can be seriously dangerous for divers. I suggest that every water sports centre have an annual inspection to provide a quality service to their clients.

While admitting that we have a long way to go, we should also remember that making this a profitable industry to bring foreign currency is actually possible provided the basics are followed and then the rest will fall in to place. We have water. Other people create that and make money. We have it naturally but we are not making use of it. Also we need to protect the sea if we are to turn this in to an industry.

Whale watching needs to be properly regulated. The way the boats operate will harm the sea animals or the animals may go somewhere else. Commercial routes need to be away from the habitats of the sea animals.

If we are to start the Yachting Industry here in Sri Lanka, what should be the main concerns?

The Yachting Industry plays a major role in the European economy. If Sri Lanka is willing to attract luxury yachts we need to first upgrade our rules and regulations.

One of the main things is the cleanliness of the environment. It does not matter how beautiful our coastal areas are, most of them are polluted. Another common problem foreigners face when they come to Sri Lanka is that there are no fixed prices for water sports. Sometimes they are charged unreasonable amounts which gives them a wrong impression about our country.

How would you compare the standards we have in the country with others in the world?

In Sri Lanka anyone can dive, jet ski or take part in any other water sport without a license. But in Europe you have to have a license. Most of our diving centres do not have the equipment needed for water sports. This is actually dangerous.

In many foreign countries the authorities requires a valid license if anyone wants to dive. All these rules are made with the purpose of keeping the divers safe. The ones with no license are not allowed in the deep sea.

Such license is compulsory to drive jet skis and tenders (small boats) too. Once I went to one of these diving places in Sri Lanka and they said that there was no need to have anything like that to drive a jet ski. I have been doing this job for so many years and I have experienced how important it is to have the balance when driving a jet ski. You are taking someone else on water and his life is in your hands so it is up to you to make sure he does not face any danger.

What are the pros and cons of your job?

Well, one of the greatest things about my job is that I get to work in a wide variety of stunning locations around the world. Most positions are in the Mediteranian, but there are a growing number of centres opening around the Red Sea, Caribbean, United Arab Emirates and Indian Ocean. They are just breathtaking. Also we get to meet new people all the time. Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony, Tony Blair and P Diddy are some of the famous people I have trained.

One of the disadvantages would be that you are always away from your family. That is the nature of this job. But then again in life you have to make sacrifices to achieve your goals. Sometimes we have to work at a stretch with no break at all. It is our job to impress people and to give them the best training for the money they pay. Even the yacht owner would want to show off how good his employees are and that is exactly why they want to employ the best.

This job is definitely not one of those 8 – 5 jobs. It is all about hard work. The time your work finishes depends on the work load and you have to be very responsible for each and everything you do.

Are you willing to help someone who invites you to start a water sports centre (with proper regulations as you said earlier)?

Yes, I am willing to help whenever I can. I have not yet thought of going to work as a water sports instructor in yachts. Till then, I can help with my expertise absolutely free. Especially diving. Because a lot of people do not have the basic knowledge when it comes to diving.

In jet skiing the driver needs to have good control.Therefore that person should have a lot of experience, otherwise his client will be in trouble. I can probably train people how to do better and safer when diving.