Professional nonpareil

There is little to suggest that he is 46 years old. Fighting fit, the reigning National Match racing champion, Farokh Tarapore, can match the young or the experienced sailors anyday. He was Chairman, Protest Committee, in the Vestas National 420 sailing championship. As there were hardly any protests during the championship, the self-effacing and dignified two-time World champion chose to spend his time interacting with teenagers. Farokh came across as one who genuinely wanted the young sailors to realise their mistakes. When he found that very few used the spinnaker (third mast) during downward wind, he spoke in detail about its merits. “His knowledge about sailing is amazing. You should see him when he sails. He is so perfect that nobody can point a finger at him,” said Benjadeed, one of the young sailors.

A three-time Olympian in the 470 class (1984, ’88 & ’92) and two-time World sailing champion, Farokh said the urgent need for Indian sailing is good professional coaches. “Good coaches are not cheap. In Singapore, there are 50-odd coaches and of them 17 are foreigners.”

Refusing to criticise anybody for the poor patronage of sailing, Farokh said, “it’s the responsibility of the whole nation.” He further said corporates should look at sailing more seriously and offer full support. “I am not making this statement out of thin air. This is made after making calculations. Sailing requires Rs.100 crores for the next 10 years. Anything else will be a compromise.”

Farokh doesn’t agree with the notion that the sport doesn’t have icons for youngsters to follow. “We have a world champion in dinghy class — Nitin Mongia — Homy Mothiwala, world champion in Enterprise class and myself. I am talking only about gold medals. We have more idols than in any other sport. It’s just that they have not been used well.”