Riding high on high tide

Winners in the Raymonds India-International Regatta (from left): Varun Thakkar, K. C. Ganapathy (29er), Vishnu Sujeesh, Janaki Balachander (Optimist Class) and Patrick Crosbie (laser 4.7 class).-K. PICHUMANI Winners in the Raymonds India-International Regatta (from left): Varun Thakkar, K. C. Ganapathy (29er), Vishnu Sujeesh, Janaki Balachander (Optimist Class) and Patrick Crosbie (laser 4.7 class).

Varun Thakkar and Ganapathy, winners in the 29er category, had a few testing times in the sea. Their effort, though, was worth it. By S. Dinakar.

The challenges of the sea can pose searching questions to a sailor’s courage and skill. If the swells and the chops do not get you, the winds might. Add to the scenario, dark clouds and rain and the protagonist not only has to beat his adversaries but take on nature as well.

The conditions were tough for sailing in the Raymond-India International Regatta in Chennai recently. Persistent showers, lack of light since the sky was covered in shades of grey and strong gusts made it hard for the competitors. The waves got higher and there were fears of a storm.

To its credit, The Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA) managed to complete the event against the odds.

“In a way it was good that the sailors had to conquer these hard conditions. It will prepare them better for the competitions ahead,” said Ashok Thakkar, Commodore, TNSA.

Indeed, the victorious sailors sported the broad smile of satisfaction at the end of it all.

Varun Thakkar and Ganapathy, winners in the 29er category, had a few testing times in the sea. Their effort, though, was worth it.

Varun said the shifting winds — it often changed directions complicating the course — forced the sailors to be at their best tactically and technically.

Ganapathy said, “Winning was not the only idea for coming here. We wanted to look at our performance, sought to improve in every aspect.”

Varun added, “We are pleased but there are areas where we can get better.”

The all-girl team of Varsha Gautam and Aishwarya Chezhian — they topped in the event last year — put up a spirited show again and came close to defeating Varun and Ganapathy in the final race.

Pursuing glory in sports demands sacrifices and both Varsha and Aishwarya gave up their schools — they rely on correspondence courses — to sharpen their sailing skills.

“We spend hours at the sea, often sailing and practising with the boys,” said Varsha. “All the time we put in has given us confidence,” said Aishwarya.

In the Laser 4.7 category, Ireland’s Patrick Crosby emerged triumphant. He rode the tides and harnessed the wind capably. Being Irish, he was used to the gloomy conditions prevalent in Chennai for most part of the five days of the competition.

Crosby, encouraged by his father, began sailing when just six. Since then, his conversations with the water have become clearer.

He confessed to fear when in the middle of the sea all alone for the first time. Crosby, gradually, overcame the demon inside and now enjoys his sailing.

He actually finds peace in the sea these days. And Crosby’s eyes do light up when water reflects sunlight and the sea changes its colour to green, blue, silvery or golden.

A combative Prince Noble pushed Crosby hard in the second half of the races by the Irish lad held on.

In the Optimist class, Vishnu Sujeesh came up trumps, while Janaki Balachander finished second. Vishnu Saravanan impressed too but since only five races could be held in this class due to inclement weather — there were no discards — his disqualification for being `One the Course Side’ in one race meant he could only finish with 70 points. This underlines the importance of fair and consistent sailing; every race counts in the eventual run.

Ramya Saravanan took the Under-12 Trophy.

As the competition concluded, it rained even harder and the sea changed its hue once again. The tango between man and the sea can be fascinating.