New duo dominant in Double-Hander

The triumphant Kaushal Kumar Yadav and Gireesh Mailapravan.-K.RAMESH BABU

The winning duo from the Artillery Water Sports Association (AWSA) followed the simple strategy of being at the right place at the right time, writes A. Joseph Antony.

The old order made way for the new in double-hander sailing. Kaushal Kumar Yadav and Gireesh Mailapravan upstaged defending champions Kalaga Yakobu and Rajeev Kumar to claim the fifth inland Hobie 16 National championships at the Hussain Sagar, Hyderabad recently.

The duo from the Artillery Water Sports Association (AWSA) followed the simple strategy of being at the right place at the right time. That translated to using a sound start as a springboard to spur their craft forward, negotiating the beats that were rarely easy, pouncing on the pressure that the wind built up and keeping tabs on their rivals right through the series’ dozen races.

Kaushal had struck gold at this very venue in 2011 but with Aman Kumar as crew. “Aman was a newcomer and it was quite a struggle then,” recalled the native of Ahiravali village in UP’s Ballia district. In contrast, the recent victory came with relative ease.

That can be attributed to the fine understanding he enjoys with his new crew Gireesh. One reason for the tall and wiry sailor from Chavassery town in Kerala’s Kannur district coordinating well with his helm was that Gireesh started off on a Seabird in Mumbai in 2005 and the shift to a Hobiecat was not only swift but smooth.

“Low winds on the opening day of this series hampered us and we anticipated stiff competition from strong teams from the Navy and the Army Yachting Node (AYN), Mumbai,” said Gireesh when looking back on the second triumph with Kaushal after gold in last year’s Coastal Nationals at Visakhapatnam.

The manner of their climb to the top of the charts was backed by statistical evidence too. The pair got the gun no less than four times, charting its course carefully to ensure it never slipped below seventh position, while thrice finishing second. If the upwind legs made the difference, close hauled sailing by this two-some landed them the spoils.

The three-day regatta would have truly tested the sailors, for the big boats that thrive in high wind conditions were greeted by speeds ranging from a paltry four to about 12 knots! Conditions otherwise were quite conducive, dark clouds almost all through standing guard over the lake built by Hyderabad’s Qutubshahi rulers over four centuries ago! There were mild drizzles but beyond delaying the event marginally, didn’t have much impact on the competition.

For ousted champs Yakobu and Rajeev, their second position in the final standings was adorned by two wins. What stood out was their consistency. In the first four races, they finished third in addition to which they crossed the closing line twice, right behind the winners. In this championship, they had simply given up ground to a better pair.

If it came to enjoying their days at the office, few could match the Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre’s Imolemnok and Shekhar Singh Yadav. Though based in Mumbai for most of the year, they couldn’t quite practise together, because Imolemnok arrived in Hyderabad from Kochi three days before this competition began and Yadav, two days ahead from the metropolis.

Both of them could be seen sporting broad smiles and not just when finishing first. Surprisingly, both are archrivals in match racing but got along like a house on fire when plying their twin-hulled, twin-sail catamaran. So flashing victory signs or smiles for the cameras came as naturally to them as if they had been doing it for years!

Yadav, who hails from Chamroda Pipali village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district had earlier made a mark in the Radial segment of the Laser Nationals which concluded less than a fortnight before. If they had a formula for finishing third, it could be attributed to their sticking close to the lay-line. Imolemnok, a Petty Officer, said they invariably started well and could execute their plans.

“We took due care to ‘cover’ our rivals well, ensuring we were ahead, even on different tacks,” said Yadav, a Chief Petty Officer, who has been a seasoned campaigner here down the years.

Without a sponsor and despite limited resources, the event was efficiently organised under the supervision of Major Vimal Kanthwal, Secretary of the National Hobie Class Association and AWSA. Credit is also due to Principal Race Officer Lt. Col. (Retd.) Mohinder Pal Jaggi and Race Officer Havaldhar T.S. Chaturvedi for completion of the entire 12-race championship, giving sailors room to discard two of their worst performances in the final reckoning.

THE OVERALL STANDINGS (HELMS' NAMES FIRST):

1. KAUSHAL KUMAR YADAV/GIREESH MAILAPRAVAN 21 POINTS (AWSA). 2. K. YAKOBU/RAJEEV KUMAR 28 (AWSA). 3. IMOLEMNOK/ SHEKHAR SINGH YADAV 37 (INWTC, MUMBAI). 4. SAMAL PRADHAN/ RAHUL RAI 40 (INWTC, MUMBAI). 5. BRIJRAJ VARMA/PANKAJ KUMAR 48 (INWTC, M). 6. PAWAN KUMAR/SUKHEN SUR 54 (AYN). 7. KAMLESH PATEL/U.B. RAWANKAR 58 (AYN). 8. SANDEEP JAIN/D.CHANDRA SHEKHAR 62 (AYN).