Young Turk Dirvana has big dreams
He claims he started sailing when he was just 10 days old.
Thirty-seven years later, Turkey's Edhem Dirvana will lead the Beko Team Turx in the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series - one of the best stadium-racing competitions in the world.
This year's series will be staged at eight different venues around the world, with the first act in Singapore from today to Sunday.
Dirvana will be joined by co-skipper Mitch Booth, who helped to build some of the 40-foot catamarans that will feature in the series.
After testing the waters while flying the flag of the hosts at the Istanbul leg of last year's series, Team Turx, sponsored by home appliance brand Beko, will make their debut in all eight acts this year.
For Dirvana, who grew up sailing in different classes of boats with his father, Team Turx's participation in the series is a dream come true.
"When I discovered catamarans, I became so fond of them and I realised that they were the future of sailing," he told The New Paper yesterday, 24 hours before the first action of the year on the waters at Marina Bay.
"I started dreaming of putting together the first Turkish team to take part in high-level sailing competitions, like this Extreme Sailing Series."
Dirvana's passion for sailing helped land him one of the lead roles in Pazarlari Hic Sevmem, a Turkish movie about two brothers planning their father's funeral.
The producer caught the 37-year-old giving a television interview about sailing, and she contacted him soon after.
Although he acknowledged that it was an interesting experience, sailing will always come first for the Turk.
Dirvana described Booth's presence as a "real treat".
The 53-year-old has the distinction of competing at the Olympic Games for two different countries - Australia in 1992 and 1996, Holland in 2004 and 2008.
He won bronze at the '92 Games and a silver in '96, and he also owns 11 world titles, which explains why Dirvana calls him the "god of sailing".
Co-skipper Booth is thrilled to be mentoring the rookie team.
"It's very satisfying when you bring a new team from the monohull background into catamaran racing and show them what high-performance boats are like," he said yesterday.
He felt going up against the best of the best, starting here today, would give a good measure of Team Turx's ability.
"It's the first time Team Turx will be competing at this level. It will take a bit of time but, nevertheless, we are going to give 200 per cent and we'll see how it goes from there," he said.
Emphasising the importance of a team working together in harmony, Booth said: "As long as we're improving throughout the year, that's really our goal.
"Nobody is more important than everyone else, and everyone has his strengths in the team."
Obviously, Dirvana has bigger dreams for Team Turx.
"Our ultimate goal will be to turn this team into an America's Cup outfit," he said.
"That takes time, but we are taking the right steps and working with the right people," he added, gesturing at Booth.
There is little doubt Dirvana will be at the helm of Team Turx for as long as he is able.
When asked how long he intended to keep sailing, he replied: "I want to sail until I die."