Tanvi Jagadish, India’s first female stand-up paddle boarder is surfing her way into a zillion hearts

From being a water-baby to making a full-fledged career out of the rare sport, Tanvi is surely making India proud internationally with her sheer talent, skill, and of course, but loads of hard work.
Tanvi paddleboard surfer
As she chases her joy as paddle boarder, she inspires us all! Image Courtesy: Tanvi Jagdish
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 7 Mar 2020, 16:24 pm IST
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Back in the year 2009 when the world was probably smitten with Barack Obama coming to power in the United States of America, what was brewing in Mulki, a small town in the coastal city of Mangalore was to make us proud almost 7 years later.

That was exactly the time when a 9-year-old little girl went swimming to the Mantra Surf Club with her grandfather during holidays and developed a love so deep for the ocean that she decided to commit a lifetime to it. We’re talking about the now-20-year-old Tanvi Jagadish, India’s first female stand-up paddle boarder.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate her achievements
Pure genius at what she does, Tanvi has been a national surfing and stand-up paddling (SUP) champion—not just once—but 6 times—since she started participating in the domestic championship in 2013! 

The lady marked her international presence in the year 2016 by becoming the first woman to have represented India at the World SUP and Paddleboard Championship organised by the International Surfing Association, in Fiji, where athletes from 26 countries competed in events like SUP distance race (18km) and SUP technical race (3km).

“I didn’t have the money to fly to Fiji, but I still somehow made it there,” Tanvi says recounting the days of her struggle.  

“When I touched the finish line, I didn’t even care about my ranking. It was just such a huge honour for me to represent my country. No Indian had ever been there,” she adds.This was just the beginning for her international achievements. 

“In 2017, I attended the U.S. Open, where I was ranked third,” she mentions. 

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In the same year, she also participated in the Asia Cup held in China,  ISA World SUP and the Paddleboard Championship held in Denmark, and bagged the ‘Grom of the Year’ award by the SUP Connect, a U.S.-based organization that together stand-up paddle boarders around the world, for her participation in the extreme sport. 

That’s not it. Tanvi was India’s sole participant at the Singapore Ocean Cup and continues to strive for perfection to achieve her dream of representing India at Olympics 2024 to be held in Paris.

However, all this glory came after a lot of struggle
Surely, her endless love affair with water and the ocean began when she went swimming with her grandparents. However, her first tryst with surfing and paddle boarding wasn’t a cakewalk. 

“When I first tried surfing, I was scared and wheezing as I didn’t even know how to swim and I had a slight breathing problem,” Tanvi recalls. 

However, soon swimming and surfing became more than a hobby for her. 


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“I used to surf for long hours and it came to my parents’ notice because of all that tan making my fair complexion turn darker and hair becoming blonde due to the ocean water. When my mother found out, she called my grandfather to confirm and made me sit at home for a year. Later, my brother convinced her to let me pursue the sport,” she says.

“When I finally started practicing it more seriously, I was taunted for my surfing gear and swimwear by the people around me. This is when my mother advised me to shut them up with my actions and I did,” she quips.

The physical challenges were no less
 Being a water-baby since childhood ,Tanvi surfed her way into bringing India on the Global map for the sport. But the sport in itself can be physically quite taxing.

For the uninitiated, SUP involves standing up on a large, broad board and using a paddle to navigate the waters, as opposed to regular paddle boarding that involves sitting on the board to navigate the waters.

Now, you can well imagine how physically challenging that can be. But what you still might not have been able to imagine yet is the fact that Tanvi is a self-taught surfer and SUP professional—despite how tricky it is.

“Although, I have been guided by several experts like pilates coach Namrata Purohit, nutritionist and life coach Hayden Rhodes, I didn’t have any formal training for the sport,” she says.

Not to mention, if you thought, her femininity ever came in the way of her exhibiting that incredible core strength and power while surfing through, you’re wrong again.

“The ocean doesn’t care about your gender. It’s all about falling in love with the water,” Tanvi mentions proudly.

And the struggle still continues…
Although surfing and paddle-boarding, are touted as one of the world’s fastest growing sports, India still remains a cricket-obsessed country and much like what we saw in Chak De! India, the lack of money and funding for is probably why SUP’s growth in India is not as steady as it is in other countries.

“Many times, I have to miss international events and championships due to a lack of funds,” Tanvi mentions.

“But, I still practice for almost 8 hours every day because the ocean teaches you that there are no boundaries. Being there makes me feel liberated,” she says with a lot of hope.

Tanvi is all for woman power
Apart from being a true-blue testimony of woman power herself, Tanvi also aims at making this power widespread.

“A lot of girls look up to me and I work really hard to set an example. Moreover, with no boundaries, being in the ocean can make a woman feel very free, liberated, empowered, and inspired to chase her dreams” she says ecstatically.

She never forgets to give back to the society
Tanvi’s surf school, Kadal Centre for Sports Surf Yoga, Malpe beach, Karnataka, is all about teaching paddle boarding, surfing, and stand-up paddle yoga to women and children.


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In fact, her efforts to spread awareness about keeping the ocean clean and avoiding plastic dumping in the ocean aren’t just great for the environment, but also are her way of giving back to the fishermen community.

With a future as bright as a diamond and well—a heart of gold, Tanvi is definitely the new poster-child of this emerging sport, we say.

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