Farokh Tarpore and a few more Indian sailors have undertaken an effort to make Match Racing — a duel between two custom made boats costing Rs.25 lakh each — popular in India.

“It’s a sea sport run by the yachtsmen for the yachtsmen. It’s like Twenty20 cricket with the event held close to the shore in order to help the sponsors brand their products,” said Tarpore, President of the Match Racing Association of India, while announcing the third edition of the ISS Mumbai International Match Race ’09 (MIMR) that gets underway with an opening ceremony here on Sunday at the Chowpatty, Marine Drive.

The MIMR will be held under the aegis of the Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre (INWTC).

Passport issues has forced a Russian team to withdraw from the Grade 2 event that be held from November 2 to 5, but the men’s teams from Estonia, Sweden, Korea, Bahrain, France, Ireland, Thailand, India (4) and a women’s team skippered by Ayesha Lobo will compete in the 12-team competition.

Apart from the main sponsor ISS, West Coast Marine, Godrej Sara Lee, Trident, Z3, H20 Watersports Complex and BIG 92.7 FM are supporting the event. The organisers have estimated a budget of Rs.1 crore for the event.

“It will be a round-robin event initially and the top four will qualify for the semi-finals. The four Indian teams will be skippered by Arjuna Award winners (Cdr. R. Mahesh, winner of the silver medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, Farokh Tarpore, Aashim Mongia and Nitin Mongia).

In the first MIMR in 2007, the organisers awarded prize money of $10,000.

“That’s a mistake we made. We could not hold the MIMR 2 last November because of the terror attack and thereafter we could not get sponsors. Nonetheless we held in event in January ’09. We are not giving cash prize time; our aim is to get the MIMR the Grade 1 category. That will take some time. The last Grade 1 event in Russia had prize money of €55,000. The running costs for a Grade I event in India will be around Rs.3 crore. We have six boats and each one costs Rs.25 lakh,” said Tarapore.

Match Racing, with each match lasting 15 to 20 minutes, will be an open category event at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China next year and an Olympic class for women at London 2012, and an opportunity has opened an Olympic dream for Ayesha Lobo.

“Match Racing has been started by me and it can only die with me. Our next aim is to get the 2010-11 World Championship to India,” said Tarapore, an Olympian and who since 1975 has taken part in 17 international events including the Asian Games, Asian Championships and the World Championships.

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