Utpal More, Sandeep Jain triumph

THE newly formed team of Captain Utpal More and Havaldar Sandeep Jain of Regiment of Artillery Sailing Club, Hyderabad, demonstrated what remarkable transformation can come about in one's ratings, if exposed to scientific training, good fleet racing and practice.

HARRY DAVID

THE newly formed team of Captain Utpal More and Havaldar Sandeep Jain of Regiment of Artillery Sailing Club, Hyderabad, demonstrated what remarkable transformation can come about in one's ratings, if exposed to scientific training, good fleet racing and practice.

Sandeep Jain (left) and Utpal More, winners of the National Inland Enterprise Championship.-

The 19-year-old Captain Utpal and his senior crew Havaldar Sandeep (25), until last year, were nowhere among the top yachtsmen. The year-round hard work put up at the Indian Army's nodal yachting training centre — formed to train Indian yachtsmen for the forthcoming World and Olympic Games — suddenly saw them catapult to the top position in the 22nd National Inland Enterprise Championship held at the Peacock Bay of National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.

The exuberant young army Captain Utpal More, pointed out "We have been making steady progress since getting exposed to the rigorous training at the Node centre. The pair who had finished 17th in a fleet of 34 in the Commonwealth Championship in January 2003, has since been putting up a consistent performance and showing marked improvement.

In this championship, they were slow to start, but once they found their moorings, there was no stopping them. After finishing fourth and second in the first two races, they took the first position in the subsequent four races and obtained the 12th position in the seventh race, and fourth place in the next race. Having secured their position and given the option to drop two races, they did not enter the last race. Yet emerged as the undisputed champions. Incidentally this was the second title for Jain. Last year he crewed with Lt. Amit Arvind of the Naval Sailing Club, Mumbai.

The pair will be between the two teams representing India in the 420 Class World Championship to be held in England next month. The other pair will comprise the seasoned Indian Naval team of Petty Officers, S. Chavan and Rajesh Dhulaji. "We are quite confident of improving our performance in the forthcoming championship", both More and Jain quipped in chorus. "And why not age and also the opportunity provided to race in world race boats, has increased our confidence level several notches", they went on to add.

The most remarkable performance in this meet however, came from Royal Madras Yachting Association team of Ayaz Shaikh, and his lithe and almost over six feet tall crew, Sandeep Shrikant. Poor finishes of fifth and 46th position in the first two races on the opening day and 34th position in fifth race would have deterred anybody, but not the long and short team of Ayaz-Sandeep. They went on to win four races in a row to finish second with just two penalty points difference over the winning combination of More and Jain. Hot on the heels of Ayaz and Sandeep to finish third were Nilay Patil and Manish Kapaileshwar of Bombay Sailing Association.

Unlike last year the response for this year's meet in the words of Commander D. Sreenivas, Secretary, National Defence Academy Sailing Club (NDASC) was truly "overwhelming". Over 68 teams from 16 sailing clubs were in the fray. "We had to hold elimination rounds to reduce the battle among 45". The changing wind conditions had tested the skills of the participants to the hilt.

This was also for the first time that the National Inland Enterprise Championship and the National Optimist Sailing Championship for boys and girls under-15, were simultaneously held on the backwaters of the Khadakwasla lake. While the race in the Enterprise class was held at the Peacock Bay on the NDA side, the Optimist class was conducted on the opposite side of the lake at the Naval Experimental Bay of the Institute of Armament Technology (IAT) in Girinagar.

While veterans like the reigning world champion Vikas Kapila, the brothers, Amish and Nikhil Vaid, 420 class national winner Ayaz Shaikh, Sandeep Shrikant, winner of several national Laser class, were engaged in fierce contests in their fragile wind swept fibre-class boats, Chaitanya Chowghule, of GYA, indulged in a cat and mouse game with younger opponents on the opposite side of the lake.

Chaitanya was amply rewarded for the `consistency' in his performance with the second national title in just a matter of 10 days. He had won the National Coastal Championship in Mumbai in May. Out of the six races, the wily Chaitanya did not win the first place in even one race. But his consistency paid dividends as the following figures show: 2+3+2+2+2+OCS+2=13 penalty points.

The 15-year-old Zeal Kapadia of Sea Cadet Corps Sailing Association (SCCSA), Mumbai, managed to secure the second spot for herself. Her final points position was as follows: 1+4+6+4+8+1+1=24.

Zeal's teammate Abhisekh Mhatre, slotted in the third position. Another notable performance came from Xerxes Bamboat, of Royal Bombay Yachting Club. The spunky youngster's habit of late surge, saw him win a first position in two races, but his poor showing in two other races, and one race in which he failed to finish, cost him dearly and he had to remain content with the seventh position.

As many as nine girls and 27 boys drawn from nine clubs participated in the National Inland Optimist Class Sailing Championship organised by the College of Military Engineering Rowing Association.

The following is the final position after discarding two bad races:

National Inland Enterprise Championship : 1. Utpal More — Sandeep Jain (RASC) — 14 Penalty points, 2. Ayaz Shaikh — Sandeep Shrikant (RMYC) — 16, 3. Nilay Pillay — Manish Kapileshwar — 19.

Other Prizes:

Dr. B. V. Rao Trophy: Cadet Patil and Cadet Mahavir Arya (NDASC). Best Junior Team: Aarti Pawar/Ninad Mayekar (SCCSA).

Youngest Helmsman: Amit Kumar (GNA), Best Lady Helm: Aarti Pawar (SCCSA). Oldest Helm: Mahaved Kalekar (NDASA).

National Inland Optimist Championship: 1. Chaitanya Chowghule (GYA) — 13, 2. Zeal Kapadia (SCCSA) — 24, 3. Abhishek Mhatre (SCCSA) — 25, 4. Rohith Ashok (RYMA) — 30. 5. Virat Heeje (RBYC) — 32, 6. Tirunal Helegaonkar (SCCSA) — 33, 7. Xerxes Bamboat (RBYC) — 39, 8. Kabir Tombat (GYA) — 45, 9. Snehal Desai (SCCSA) — 48, 10. Trisha Sabir (GYA) — 48.