Hanging out with Tanvi Jagadish – India’s 1st Female Paddler.

Catch us talking to this young girl about surfing, breaking the #NORM and if she uses sunscreen.

Surfing made me stronger, it has changed my mindset. I was a NORMal girl attending school, had NORMal dreams of becoming a software or mechanical engineer, then get a good job, earn some money and own a good house. Post Surfing I have changed – I told myself I need to dream harder, I need to represent my country, I need to get stronger to take on the pressure!

That’s Tanvi Jagadish for you guys, India’s youngest and 1st ever female paddler who recently represented our country at the ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship, Fiji. Catch us talking to this young (let’s change the definition of young, please! The words out of this girl is pure wisdom) girl about sports, breaking the #NORM, surfing and if she uses sunscreen.


What triggered your passion for surfing?

I was quite young when I came across surfing. It was at the age of 8 when I used to visit my grandparents at a place called Mulki. I would go to this Ashram called Mantra School of Surfing. My grand father loved the bajans there and would take me there regularly, I was very curious about the paintings in and around the ashram – especially the surf paintings. I just wanted to know what surfing was all about.

Basically, a painting inspired you to take up surfing?

Yes, the beautiful paintings and pictures of surfing. Also my cousin would tell me surfing is ‘Fun’ ‘You should try it’, he used to stay with my grandparents and visit the surfing school everyday and I would just visit them once in a week. It was a combination of inspiration and my cousin who pushed me to take it up.

Also when I started surfing, people would talk behind my back. They would say ‘Can girls really surf in India’ ‘Do they have that kind of strength’. Comments like this made me make up my mind to prove them wrong, it became my dream to just surf and prove all of them wrong.

As a young girl did you face any pressures as to stop surfing?

In 2008, when I started surfing it was very new to India. People told me you can’t, but the thing about my personality is that, “When people tell me you can’t do it, I will do it – just to prove them wrong.’’ I faced a lot of opposition from society and my parents. See, I understand it coming from my parents cause, they were just being protective. When I started surfing I didn’t expect that society would tell me that girls shouldn’t surf in India and girls are weaker than boys. Society still hasn’t discovered the potential of a women, they don’t know what girls are capable of!

We must say you were very brave then, how old are you Tanvi?

Hahahaha thanks, I am 16 years old.

Other than surfing do you do anything else?

I do stand up paddling and I am India’s 1st female stand up paddler 🙂

What do you think about India’s sports scene and its infrastructure?

When I got a chance to represent India at the Fiji ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship. I didn’t get any kind of support at all. Nobody in India is opening their eyes to new sports – other than cricket. Everyone in India is just sticking on to one sport, there are so many sports out there! Each an every sport in India should be given equal support, why is so much of crores pumped into the cricket sport by the government?

Every sport needs to get support, especially women athletes need our support.

Do you think sports can make women stronger  – mentally and physically?

Yes, I completely agree. Take for example me, it has changed the way I look at myself and the world. Post Surfing I have changed – I had to tell myself I need to dream harder, I need to represent my country, I need to get stronger to take on the pressure. One more deed about me – surfing helped me get rid of my asthma.

Surfing has made me positive, the challenges I face made me stronger and I know in the future there will be more. But I tell myself that they will make me stronger. It’s situations that make us stronger. For boys it’s always been easy, oh you like it – do it, oh you want it – you get it. For girls it’s been difficult – we need to start with our parents explain to them the Mahabharata and Ramayana and then convince them to take up a sport like surfing.

What’s your take on the Indian society?

There’s a slow change in our society today, people would ask me why are you wearing shorts, As a girl you shouldn’t wear shorts! I would reason and say I wear them because they are comfortable when I surf. But things are changing, parents are beginning to support their children in what they do.

Tell us more about your style – what you love wearing?

Just because you wear Nike, it doesn’t make you a good player. Just because you wear trendy stuff, it doesn’t make you stylish. For me style is all about your personal hard work, how you look at life, how you treat people and how you respond to them.

See, I’m a bit of a tomboy to tell you the truth, but now I’m understanding our Indian culture – I love wearing saris. Infact I did a shoot with me wearing a sari and holding a surfboard.

You are always in the water, what’s your skincare routine?

I believe in using natural products, I don’t use a sunscreen at all because I have read that products like this can cause cancer. All I used is coconut oil which really protects my skin.

Don’t you get worried if you will get tanned?

I really don’t care about getting tanned, in fact my schoolmates keep telling me see you got tanned. I just don’t pay much attention, because my goal is focused on surfing and nothing else.  If I am too tanned I’ll just apply some aloe vera and kiss goodbye to my tan.
Advice or words for young athletes or budding surfers out there?

Love what you do. Live your passion. There will be so many struggles out there, people would tell you different things, but if you know deep down that you are doing the right thing, just go with it.

as told to Christopher.R.

Images : Tanvi’s IG handles and Mantra School of Surfing FB page.


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