Choudhary’s made of sterner stuff

Class act...Rajesh Choudhary stole the show in the Laser Radial.-PICS: MOHAMMED YOUSUF

The two-time Asian Games bronze-medallist at Busan and Doha made light of his 30th position in the opening leg to win the Radial Class. A. Joseph Antony reports.

“No race is lost until it is won,” said Lt. General K. S. Rao of Rajesh Choudhary’s stupendous showing in the Radial Class’ ninth race of the Laser National Championship at the Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad. The former Deputy Chief of Army Staff was mighty impressed with the sailing craft of Choudhary. “Watch how on the ‘reaches’ he reclines on the stern, turning the boat’s bow skywards when ‘planing’,” said the vintage seaman, who had captained Trishna on the 15-month expedition, circumnavigating the world.

Such positioning reduced the drag, enabling it to speed almost on a par with a motor boat that had been tracking the top fleet of the Radial set.

“See how ‘Chou’ keeps his hull flat on the ‘beats,’ restricting the craft’s heeling to a minimum,” continued General Rao.

The ninth race alluded to above was nothing short of spectacular and could not have illustrated Gen. Rao’s opening quote better. Choudhary’s start from a congested line-up was pathetic. To make matters worse, Xerxes Bamboat collided with the champion. If that wasn’t enough to upset him, his boat capsized shortly after!

But ‘Chou,’ is not a mediocre sportsman. The two-time Asian Games bronze-medallist at Busan and Doha made light of his 30th position in the opening leg. With most of the fleet setting off on a starboard tack, he was caught on the horns of a dilemma.

When in doubt, turn right, became Choudhary’s guiding principle. That ploy paid dividends, for by the windward mark, he had overtaken seven of his rivals. Beneath the benign gaze of the Buddha, standing tall atop the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ and around the ‘gybe,’ he’d bypassed half a dozen more. Circling the ‘leeward’ inflatable, he had shaken off another half a dozen.

Jasvir Singh reigned supreme in Laser Standard category.-

Generally strong

On the home stretch, Choudhary had trained his sights on Gajender, the former still behind by about 30 boat lengths. With the wealth of experience behind him, Rajesh could see Gajender’s anxiety to ‘cover’ him, the conditions perfectly conducive to spring the ‘tacking trap’ on his compatriot.

With each swing of the boom, Choudhary gained ground, equalised and broke free. Within hand-shaking distance of the committee vessel at one end of the finish line, the winner of 26 National titles made one final tack, inching ahead of Gajender by just three boat lengths to the welcome blare of the hooter.

Choudhary dedicated the Radial triumph to the memory of S. S. P. Yadav. His mate from his days as a rower, Yadav died in a dreadful accident, caught in the blades of a boat’s out-board motor, when laying the course for a championship in this very reservoir.

In the Standard category, Jasvir Singh reigned supreme, claiming the crown and the Kelly Rao Trophy for the most number of wins without discards. His only challenge came from B. K. Rout, back from a vacation and not entirely fit physically to take on the rigours of the full rig and in such testing conditions.

To Rout’s credit lay the fact that in the races which he strongly willed to win, he did. Jasvir came fully prepared for this meet though, training in monsoon conditions at the AYN in Mumbai, its densely overcast conditions quite akin to those here in Hyderabad. The six-footer pushed his physique to the maximum, stressing on the speed of his boat to spur him forward.

Sachin Singa was steady in the 4.7 fleet. The 15-year-old from the National Sailing School, Bhopal, ensured he was in the top five of every race, winning a couple of them.

Mrinalini from the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA) walked away with the honours in the women’s section of the Laser Radial.

The historic lake during the Hyderabad Sailing Week had proved a minefield for sailors, especially those short on skills. Its frothy, foam-floating and filthy surface had felled many of the participants. Capsizes had become common occurrences and the rescue teams were quite overworked. And not surprisingly at all, for wind speeds averaged between 15 and 25 knots, and on the rare occasion gusting up to 32!


Laser Standard — Men: 1. Jasvir Singh 8 (AYN), 2. B. K. Rout 15 (AYN), 3. Sukhvir Singh 29 (AYN).

Apprentice master: 1. V. Hari Hara 30 (AYN), 2. D. P. Selvam 41 (EMESA), 3. Anirudh 80 (SSC).

Youth 21 years: 1. Sandeep Gajula 91 (SSC).

Laser Radial — Men: 1. Rajesh Choudhary 8 (AYN), 2. Gajender Singh 20 (AYN), 3. Dharmender Singh 33 (AYN).

Apprentice master: 1. Rajesh Choudhary 8 (AYN), 2. P. Madhu 58 (NSS), 3. Dinesh Boorgu 148 (SSC).

Boys — Youth under-19: 1. Sharad Singha 148 (NSS).

Under-17: Sachin Singha.

Women: 1. Mrinalini 127 (TNSA), 2. Alekhya Sudan 184 (SSC), 3. Santha Ravikumar 322 (TNSA).

Laser 4.7 — Boys, Youth under-16: 1. Varun Thakkar 27 (TNSA), 2. Ajay Singh Bhagel 75 (NSS), 3. Ankit Rastogi 161 (SSC). Under-18: 1. Sachin Singa 20 (NSS), 2. Hussain M 22, 3. Gaurav Pikale 23 (EMESA).

Girls — Youth under-16: 1. Shweta S 37 (TNSA), 2. Aparya Mahule 50 (NSS), 3. Aishwarya N. 52 (TNSA).