Chennai sailors impress

Vishnu Sujeesh won the closely contested Topper Class category.-K. RAMESH BABU

Vishnu Sujeesh of Chennai had to fight hard before lifting the title in the Topper Class Nationals, while Chitresh Thata showed promise of a bright future. By Abhijit Sen Gupta.

Some close competitions were witnessed in the Deloitte Monsoon Sailing Regatta, which was held at the Hussainsagar Lake in Hyderabad recently. This year, the event received 150 entries from all over India, in different categories.

One of those whose talent was put to the test was Vishnu Sujeesh of Chennai, who had to fight hard before lifting the title in the Topper Class Nationals. Vishnu, and his main rival Dheer Singhi, who won two races on the final day, were tied on 12 points each. The tie remained unresolved after discard, since both had four wins and both had four second positions. The rules state that in such cases, the position in the last race will decide the winner.

Vishnu, who finished just three seconds ahead in the ninth and final race, thus became India’s first Topper National champion by a whisker.

The talented Dheer had to be content with the runner-up spot, while local lad Ragi Rajnikanth won the bronze. Bangalore girl Avanti Menon finished a creditable fourth and was declared the Best Girl Sailor in the regatta.

In Race 6 in the Topper Class, there was an upset, as Hyderabad lad Ragi Rajnikanth stunned the more seasoned sailors from Chennai. Rajnikanth, who had never sailed a Topper before this event, did well to find the right winds and took the lead and held on till the end.

Top-seed Ayaz Shaikh and his crew from Mumbai lifted the gold in the Match Racing competition. In the final, Ayaz and Atool Sinha battled it out in a best of seven-race contest. In the first race Ayaz had a good start and later managed to gain the lead which he steadily increased with skilful handling of his craft to finish 12-boat lengths ahead.

In the second race, after some complex prestart manoeuvring, Ayaz surged ahead with every leg to make it 2-0. But Atool hit back in the third race with a hard-fought win. Ayaz incurred penalties which made his job difficult. The duel continued till the very end but Atool managed to edge out Ayaz and the overall tally became 2-1.

In the fourth race Atool was engaged in a tacking duel with Ayaz. But the latter, employing superior tacking skills, won again to make it 3-1. The fifth race saw Atool’s boat develop gear problems which forced him off-course and he lost his chance thereafter. Ayaz thus won 4-1. For the third place, Manu Jairam of Hyderabad beat Sandeep Mhatre of Mumbai.

Vishnu Saravanan of Mumbai bagged the gold in the Optimist Class. He chalked up 17 penalty points after discards, over the 11 races that were conducted. Chitresh Thata of Chennai with 22 penalty points claimed the silver with three wins and some consistent performances. The 11-year-old sailor showed maturity beyond his years and seems headed for bigger feats in the near future. The bronze went to Mahesh Balachander of Chennai who had 33 penalty points.

The Ind Opti fleet was dominated by the Sea Cadet sailors who claimed all top 10 positions. Shubam Jadav clinched the gold followed by Piyush Chavan (silver) and Aditi Raorane (bronze).