On Friday, fortune chose not to favour the brave. Sharif Khan of the Army Yachting Node (AYN), leading by over half a leg in the fifth race of the Radial Class, was dealt a cruel blow by a freak accident. The former silver and bronze medallist was forced to retreat shore-wards in the Laser National championships at the Hussain Sagar.
It should have been an encore of the fourth race from the native of Khijdya village in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district. In the opening contest, Sharif could do no wrong, smartly setting off on a starboard tack on the upwind leg when the rest of the fleet veered to the right.
When he swung the boom next, it was to signal to the rest of the fleet that he was the boss.
Widening the gap
Like a seasoned sailor, Sharif steadily separated himself from the pack, from 30 boat lengths at the second windward mark to half a leg when rounding the gybe inflatable.
When he got the hooter, Sharif had widened the gap to three fourths of a leg, his nearest rival hearing the whistle almost a minute after him!
“This is my home ground,” said the AYN ace, “as I began with the EMESA, trained by P. Madhu and D.P. Selvam,” before a short but very fruitful stint with Israeli coach Eshed Meseritz.
Although he foresaw competition from teammates Ramesh Kumar and Bikram Mahopatra, Sharif sounded confident about winning the series. In the fifth too, he was by far the front-runner, a comfortable 25 boat lengths ahead on completion of the first triangle.
Turning the leeward mark, he tightened his craft’s cunningham, in readiness for the long haul ahead, when the sail ripped, literally and figuratively taking the wind out of his campaign.
Gaurav Randhawa stepped in soon after, his climb to the top, slow but sure. “I waited for others to make the mistakes while taking care I didn’t make many,” said the Petty Officer with the Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre, Mumbai. “Fifty metres from the finish, I got a favourable (wind) shift from the right and I went with it,” he added.
In the fleet flying the smallest sail, the 4.7, Prince Noble of the Kerala Yachting Association had a glorious double. Also a pupil of P. Madhu, he retained pole position from start to finish in the fifth and sixth races, posting an honourable third in the fourth. A sudden squall in the evening forced abandonment of the last race in the Radial set, which will be sailed on the morrow.
Laser Standard: Race 4: 1. B.K. Rout (EMESA), 2. Dharmender Singh, 3. Jasvir Singh (both AYN). Race 5: 1. Jasvir, 2. M. Naveen Kumar, 3. Gitesh (all AYN). Race 6: 1. Naveen, 2. Rout, 3. Jasvir.
Laser Radial: Race 4: 1. Sharif Khan (AYN), 2. S.S. Yadav (INWTC, Mumbai), 3. B. Mahopatra (AYN). Race 5: 1. Gaurav Randhawa (INWTC, M), 2. Mahopatra, 3. Ramesh Kumar (AYN).
Laser 4.7: Race 4: 1. Ravindhar M. (TNSA), 2. Pawan Verma (NSS, Bhopal), 3. Prince Noble (KYA). Race 5: 1. Prince Noble, 2. Ravindhar, 3. Vir Menon (RMYC). Race 6: 1. Prince Noble, 2. Vir Menon, 3. Ravindhar.