Contrasting wins for Sandeep & Rajesh

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA

SANDEEP SRIKANT of Royal Madras Yacht Club (RMYC) Chennai and Rajesh Choudhary of Army Yachting Node (AYN) Mumbai won the titles in the Laser Standard Class and Laser Radial Class in the Laser National sailing championship at the Hussainsagar lake in Hyderabad.

While 29-year-old Rajesh, an accomplished and experienced sailor faced little difficulty in the Radial Class, Sandeep was given a tough fight by young Arjun Pradipak of Secunderabad Sailing Club in the Standard Class.

Coming back after a lay off, 22-year-old Arjun, son of former international sailor and Arjuna awardee C. S. Pradipak showed that he has the class and the skills to challenge the best in the business. Recently Arjun had finished second in the trials for the coming Asian Games and was selected as one of the reserves. Civilian sailors face a number of difficulties in their quest for excellence in this sport. But despite several hurdles Arjun has managed to stay among the top category of sailors in the country and it shows his dedication and commitment.

In the Hyderabad regatta Arjun put up a stiff fight against the tall and lanky Sandeep Srikant who will be representing India in the Asian Games in the Laser Standard class. There were seventeen entries in the Laser Standard. No doubt some big names such as Nitin Mongia and R. Mahesh were missing from the fray this time but the field was still quite a strong one due to the presence of experienced sailors such as D. P. Selvam, Ram Kumar and V.Harihara apart from Arjun and Sandeep. Ten races were sailed and the participants were allowed to discard two worst performances when the final points tally was tabulated.

But as the championship progressed it soon became clear that the main fight would be between Arjun and Sandeep. The latter began well by chalking up two victories on the first day while Arjun got one win. But on the second day Arjun turned the tables on his arch rival and then on the penultimate day each of them had one victory.

So the final race in the Standard Class was all important for both of them. Srikant had his strategy planned out from the beginning and he decided to cover Arjun throughout the race with all legal means at his disposal. He succeeded in doing so and managed to push Arjun out of the reckoning. Arjun who finished sixth lodged a protest against Srikant for unfair conduct but it was overruled.

Both Sandeep Srikant and Arjun finished with 16 penalty points. So the tie had to be broken by taking into account which sailor had better placings in the ten races which were conducted. In the first instance again both were equal with four victories each. So the second criteria for splitting the tie was taken up. Here Srikant had one second place finish while Arjun had none. So Srikant was declared winner of the title.

In the Radial Class Rajesh Choudhary emerged a clear cut winner by a big margin. This former EMESA sailor, a gold medallist in the last Asia Pacific regatta, who is now with the AYN, has the technique, determination and motivation to come up with a medal in the Asian Games feel many experts here.

Nisha Shenai of Secunderabad Sailing Club emerged as the best woman sailor while Taruna Vazirani also of SSC was runner up.

The championship sponsored by Prashant Sai Builders and Le Sante Garments was smoothly conducted and most participants had a word of praise for the arrangements made by the LCAI. The event managers Arc Lights chipped in to ensure there was no hitch. Lt. Gen. R. K. Mehta, AVSM, VSM, President of the LCAI gave away the prizes.

The overall placings:

Standard Class: 1. Sandeep Srikant (RMYC) 16 penalty points. 2. Arjun Pradipak (SSC) 16. 3. Ram Kumar (AYN) 20. 4. D. P. Selvam (AYN) 26. 5. V. Harihara (AYN) 30.

Radial Class: 1. Rajesh Choudhary (AYN) 9 pts. 2. Sandeep Kapur (AYN) 17 . 3. Amit Arvind (NSC) 21. 4. P. Madhu (AYN) 27. 5. D. Boorogu (SSC) 35.

Women: 1. Nisha Shenai (SSC) 18 pts. 2. Taruna Vazirani (SSC) 28.