Brijraj Verma met his crew, Nagen Behera, just a day before the Inland Hobie 16 Nationals, the former being attached to the Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre (INWTC), Mumbai and the latter to the EMESA in Secunderabad.
Where others take years, the duo struck such a chord and so quickly, that between them, they sewed up four of the nine races at the Hussain Sagar until Friday, three of them on the trot (races 6, 7, 8).
On the penultimate day of the championship, Verma / Behera were on 17 points, followed by Kalaga Yakobu / Rajeev Kumar on 21 and Kamlesh Patel / U.B. Rawankar on 33.
Verma, with the right credentials to back him, having won the Coastal Nationals in the class at Mumbai in March, displayed what made him such an able hand at the helm, especially in the seventh race. Lying third after completion of two loops, he rode on the back of a lift from the right and rounded the third windward first. Thereon, he kept tabs on the opposition, never taking his eyes off them, until greeted by the hooter at the finish line.
In the eighth, Yakobu headed towards the statue of the Buddha, the largest such monolith structure in the world, while Verma and Kamlesh set off on a port tack. Verma moved to the fore, crossing the path of Kamlesh at the second windward. On the second run, Verma separated himself from the fleet by about a quarter of a leg. Kamlesh and Rawankar then chose to follow in Verma / Behera's wake and came in second at the finish.
The ninth race, the last of the day, saw Yakobu's skills resurface; a short but telling tacking duel close to the leeward mark seeing him steal a march over Kamlesh and Rawankar for the gun.
Evidence of sailing's soaring stock is an impressive list of sponsors for this event—LIC, Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, GVK-EMRI, 92.7 Big FM, The Park, Hyderabad, Prasads, BSNL, JICA, Ocean Blue, State Bank of Hyderabad, Litmus Marine and Seagrams 100 Pipers.
Earlier, Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kiran Reddy declared the fiesta formally open at an impressive function, where Lt. Gen. I.J. Singh, President, Laser Class Association of India (LCAI), Lt. Gen. K.S. Rao, Chairman, Events, Yachting Association of India (YAI) were present.
Race V: 1. K. Yakobu / Rajeev Kumar (AWSA) 2. Brijraj Verma / N. Behera (INWTC, Mumbai) 3. Kaushal Kumar / Girish M. (AWSA). Race VI: 1. Verma / Behera 2. Imolemonk / Rahul Roy (INWTC, M) 3. Kamlesh Patel / U.B. Rawankar (AYN). Race VII: 1. Verma / Behera 2. Yakobu / Rajeev 3. Kaushal / Girish. Race VIII: 1. Verma / Behera 2. Kamlesh / Rawankar 3. Yakobu / Rajeev. Race IX: 1. Yakobu / Rajeev 2. Kamlesh / Rawankar 3. Verma / Behera.