Are the Army Yachting Node’s (AYN) days of domination in the Laser National sailing championships at the Hussain Sagar numbered?
Posing a stiff challenge to its decade-long supremacy could be a recharged EME Sailing Association (EMESA). The Secunderabad squad’s trump card will be its coaching crew comprising Rajesh Choudhary, backed by other AYN-trained seasoned hands such as D.P. Selvam, H.M.T. Dilip Kumar and P. Madhu.
Besides the two Asian Games bronze medals adorning his cupboard, Choudhary has almost all the expertise that the AYN had to offer.
That is until the arrival of Dan Slater at the Mumbai outfit. The New Zealander’s training methods seem to have gone down well with AYN’s yachtsmen.
This is evident from the close circle they form around him each time they return to shore after a training session, eager that he iron out their flaws.
Spearheading the metropolitan side’s campaign will be Jasvir Singh, a man of few words but quite capable of big deeds.
Key to the EMESA cause will be B.K. Rout, a two-time gold medallist here.
“He’s not 100 per cent fit due to a recent fever and an acute dental problem,” Choudhary told The Hindu on the eve of the competition.
“I’m however hopeful that when the Laser Standard’s first race begins on Thursday at 2 p.m., Rout will be better,” Choudhary added.
The contests in the full rig should be largely between Jasvir and Rout, with Gajender Singh quite qualified to queer the pitch for the aforementioned yachtsmen.
In the Radial fleet, Dileep Kumar and Sachin Singha of the EMESA will need to battle hard against AYN’s Ramesh Kumar, Bikram Mahapatra, Amandeep and Sharif Khan.
Over the past week, the winds have been strong averaging around 20 knots, at times climbing to 25 and on the rare occasion to 30. Such climatic conditions stipulate that the strong only will survive.
“The wind’s gusty enough to scare the weak and should prod them to prepare better if they haven’t done their home work well,” noted Choudhary. In such a scenario, the AYN sailors, most of them six-footers, should score. Brigadier S. Rajaram, a former sailor himself, at a press conference on the competition’s eve said about 140 boys and girls attended a camp at this very venue with the Laser Class Association of India (LCAI) keen to induct young blood in the sport.
Lt. Col. R.S. Dhillon while explaining the finer points of the Laser class of boats, its three variants and its soaring popularity the world over, pointed out that this lake’s pollution had been a deterrent to attracting international events.
Lt. Col. S.S. Siwatch said there were 120 entries for this edition, 31 of them in the full rig, 60 in the Radial, including five women and 29 in the 4.7, 10 of them girls.
Capt. Soli Contractor, Sports Authority of India’s Observer lauded the event, describing it as an ‘excellent regatta’.
Lt. Col. (Retd.) M.P. Jaggi, the Principal Race Officer, said the course for the standard rig would comprise two triangles with a loop in between, each race bearing a 60 minute time limit, while the Radial sailors would compete over two triangles.