Kaushal and Aman sail to glory

Reading the windshifts right and steering the boat accordingly kept Kaushal and Aman in good stead. By A. Joseph Antony.

Low winds plagued the conduct of the Inland National Hobie championships at Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad recently. The twin-hulled, double-sail catamaran can match a motor-boat, provided wind-speeds cross the 10 knots minimum.

The wind-speed hovered between four and six, barely enough to move the big boats forward. For all the havoc wreaked by cyclone Hudhud in Visakhapatnam, which hosts the coastal version of the competition regularly, nature was at its benign best here.

These conditions didn’t deter the sailors though, nor dampen their gusto for action in the three-day championship sailed over a three-loop course, comprising three ‘beats’ and as many ‘runs.’ Well before the first race got under way, four-time title winner Kaushal Kumar Yadav was quite upbeat about his prospects. His optimism was however tempered by the possibility of challenge from Imo Lemnok and Shekhar S. Yadav and their Indian Naval Sailing Association (INSA) team-mates Samal Pradhan and Rahul Rai. In the previous edition, Kaushal had paired with Gireesh Mailapravan, the former being helm and the latter serving as crew.

If one is to draw a comparison, the helm is like the pilot of an aircraft and the crew, his co-pilot — the first in command of key controls, doing most of the thinking and strategising and the second executing the plans. Kaushal was assisted this time by Aman Kumar, the Artillery Water Sports Association (AWSA) duo having claimed the crown in 2011.

Coordination and communication on the craft are crucial and on these counts the chemistry between the two was pretty good. “Not only did Aman carry out instructions with 100 % attention to detail, he was also quick in doing so,” said Kaushal, explaining the most important factor that led to their triumph.

Not that it was absolutely smooth sailing for the twosome and there were no hitches en route their climb to the top. In race six, they were ‘caught in irons,’ close to the windward mark on the opening leg of the second day. For almost five minutes, they looked on helplessly, hopelessly stranded as their rivals took the wind out of their sails.

Quite understandably, they abandoned this dismal display, two discards being allowed in the dozen-race series. They were however back with a vengeance from the very next race, winning it by a whopping half-leg, the full length measuring a kilometre as the crow flies. In sailing, the simple geometry of straight lines however holds no water!

Reading the windshifts right and steering the boat accordingly kept Kaushal and Aman in good stead, the zigzagging on the upwind legs an even more uphill task in low-wind situations. In a bid to reduce distances, Navy’s Pradhan and Rai once resorted to sailing in an arc but couldn’t quite keep pace with the aforementioned pair, who played along with the wind’s vagaries to cruise ahead.

Kaushal, who has won his spurs even in the open seas, where the winds are strong, found this triumph much sweeter. “The winds in the open sea are not only steady but may shift about five degrees. In contrast, here they can swing or simply drop drastically,” he said of the task he considered more daunting.

Despite the absence of sponsorship, the event went off without a hitch. Lt. General V. K. Narula, President, National Hobie Class Association and Director General, Artillery gave away the prizes. Brig. A.K. Sasmal, Vice-President, Col. Ranjan Manocha, Captain of the Fleet and Major Ashish Saxena, Organising Secretary, were present at the valedictory function.

As Amit Nambiar, Field Marketing Specialist, Red Bull, which supports the regatta along with Bambino, pointed out, “The AWSA gives its 100 % in successfully staging the championship each year and deserves all the encouragement.”

The final standings (names of helm first, crew next): 1. Kaushal Kumar Yadav/Aman Kumar 14 pts. (AWSA) 2. Imo Lemnok/Shekhar S. Yadav 21 (INSA) 3. Samal Pradhan/Rahul Rai 25 (INSA) 4. Gireesh Mailapravan/Aparna Korrapati 38 (AWSA) 5. Ram Lal/Praveen Kumar 54 (INSA) 6. Bikash Maithi/Uttam Roy 56 (AWSA).