The absence of defending champion Rajesh Choudhary may make throw open the competition in the Laser Radial Open class in the 26th Laser National sailing championship, which was inaugurated by Lt. General N.B. Singh, VSM, Commandant MCEME, at the Secunderabad Club Sailing Annexe at the Hussainsagar lake here on Sunday morning.

The event is being conducted by the Laser Class Association of India (LCAI) along with the EME Sailing Association and Secunderabad Sailing Club.

Choudhary, one of the best sailors to have emerged from India, has dominated this event more than a decade and whenever he has been in the fray, his rivals have had little hope of bagging the title.

Mentoring

This time however Choudhary will not be in contention because he had sustained a spinal injury during the course of a regatta in Spain recently. He was seen at the venue giving tips to the younger participants. “I am hopeful of making a full recovery soon and am looking forward to taking part in events coming up in 2012,” said the 38 year old army-man.

The top names in the men's competitions include Dharmender Singh, Jasvir Singh, Harihara and Gajender Singh all from the Army Yachting Node (AYN) while in the women's category Rohini Rau who is hoping to make it to the London Olympics will be the one to watch.

Gajender Singh had won the Kelly Rao trophy last year (best points tally without discards in Laser Standard class). This year there are about 33 entries in the Laser Standard class, 50 in Laser Radial class (out of which four are women) and 32 entries in the Laser 4.7 class (of which 12 are girls).

Promoting the sport

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Lt. Gen. N.B. Singh said that the joint efforts being put in by the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP), A.P. Sports School and the NCC, to promote sailing in the region is paying off and more entries have been received this year than in any previous years which is a good sign for the future of the sport.

“Champion sailors such as C.S. Pradipak and Rajesh Choudhary have emerged from Secunderabad and we hope that in future more champions like them will be produced from this centre,” he said.