Braving The Winds Through The Bay Of Bengal
“Sailing is one lovely activity which actually gets you to anchor in life,” said Thiru. K Pandiarajan, the Honorable Minister for School education, Archeology, Youth Welfare and Sports Development Department, Government of Tamil Nadu at the inauguration of the Eighth Annual India International Regatta here on Thursday. The organizers of the 8th Annual India International Regatta were not spared by the aftermath of the wreckage caused by the recent cyclone that hit the city. What began as chaotic pre-inaugural preparations on the 15th of December, moved on to a spectacular inauguration ceremony graced by the Minister of School Education, Archeology, Youth Welfare and Sports Development Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu Thiru K. Pandiarajan, Dr. Rajendra Kumar, IAS, Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu and Thiru. P. Ravindran, IRTS, Chairman, Chennai Port Trust.
Hosted by the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, the Regatta is the only one of its kind in India and this edition saw about 150 participants from 18 countries.
As the day one of the regatta began with the briefing ceremony, tensions prevailed across various branches of the organizing committee as each faced and tackled various challenges that arose alongside the preparation for the launching of the boats into the sea. Despite all odds, all races went as per schedule. “Despite the cyclone, the organizers got everything together and conducted all the races as per schedule which is a very good thing,” said a parent of one of the sailors. “It was a fantastic sight to see the huge fleet at sea,” he added. The races had been split over 4 days of the regatta and saw four races each for the Laser radial, 29er, RS-1 and Wind Surfer Classes, three races for Laser 4.7 and two races for the Optimists – both the main fleet and the Green Fleet on day one.
Bjurn Zetterstrom, Coach of the Swedish team thought that the condition was perfect. “I think the condition was perfect, the wind was very steady and the swells were something that could be handled and that made the condition perfect,” he said. “The conditions were good but quite different from back home,’ said his daughter and student, Louise Zetterstrom.
On day two, the sailors were greeted with excellent sailing conditions that were a mixture of steady winds from the north-east averaging between 8-10 knots that increased to 13 knots through the day with lesser swells as compared to day one but with stronger currents. “The conditions were excellent, perfect for competitive sailing and racing,” said Mylai Prabhakar, the Deputy Principal Race Officer. The excellent conditions enabled the race committee to conduct three races each for the Laser 4.7, Laser radial and the 29ers.
The optimist class, the biggest fleet with 67 sailors in the main fleet and 15 sailors in the green fleet raced in course alpha and completed four races for both the main fleet and the green fleet. Ramadhan Tito from Indonesia is led the optimist class having got the gun in two of the four races held on day two.
The Thai sailors had a great day of sailing, across the board with their sailors finishing within the top 3 in almost all races of the day. Panwa Boonnak and Jedtavee Yongyuennarn of Thailand are right behind Tito in the leaderboard.
Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich, the President of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand visited the regatta with few other naval officers from the country was impressed with the sailing conditions of the Bay of Bengal “The racing here is very good and I think next time Yatching association of Thailand will come to join the racing every year and if I ever get a chance to come back, I will come definitely,” he said. “I heard that you have sixteen countries in the regatta it is not easy to win in this race because a lot of best sailors from different countries are taking part but my team is new so they will get very good experience of the strong winds, the waves and the tides of the sea in India which will be very useful for them in future events in other countries,” he added. Delighted about the team’s performance and the excellent sailing conditions, he offered a bi-lateral exchange training for Indian and Thai sailors to enable them to get trained in conditions different from home as he as a sailor believes that only excellent training makes a successful sailor.
As the laser 4.7 sailors sailed three races on day two, Samsaurdi of Indonesia and Nancy Highfield of Hong Kong continued to lead the table securing the top two positions respectively. Samsaurdi’s guns in all the races of the day helped him to maintain his first place while Highfield’s fifth and second finish helped her to retain her lead.
The third day at the Bay of Bengal with the north-east wind averaging between 8-10 knots that went to a maximum of 12 knots while gusting. “We had good conditions and good course lengths today, we managed to get all races done on time, except for one small obstruction on the course, we did not have any other issue,” said Race Officer on course B, Praveen Prabhakar, who managed to finish four races for the 29ers, Laser Radial, 420 and three for the RS1. Windsurfer Dayne Coehlo from Goa got the gun in all the three races, maintaining his first position in the leaderboard. Oman sailor Abdullah Al Sarhi held on to his second position while his teammate, Ali Al Omrani finished second in two races and third in one to beat Rahul Chaudhary to rise up to the third position. “It is really close between all of them so it is a really good fight,” said Oman coach Sultan Albalushi commenting on his team’s performance.
At the end of four races on day three for the 420 class, the leader-board remained unchanged as Vishnu Sujeesh of the TNSA and Aryaman Dutta continued to top the charts followed by the only women team in the class Diya Correa and Krisha Mongia of RBYC. Anand Thakur and Pradeep Thakur continued to lead the 29er class having won all the four races of the day. The Laser radial Class saw very few changes in the leader board, as Christopher Bezy from Hong Kong, with two third place finishes and one second place replaced fellow countrywoman Marian Williams at the third place. “It was quite good, light at the first race and picked up a little later and the waves were smaller which was good for me,” said Bezy.
Course A that saw the optimists and the laser 4.7 had four races each in tough conditions for the 4.7’s whose first race had to be abandoned and restarted due to a significant wind shift. The Optimist class continued to see the Thai team doing well but, Indonesian Ramadan Tito continues to lead. Thai sailor, Saranwong Poonpat was favored by the winds as his performance on day three resulted in him with moving from 7th to 3rd position.
On the final day, the race committee was welcomed with challenging conditions as the wind from the north by east went gusting 18-20 knots coupled with huge swells in the sea. The day, that started off early, saw two races for all the classes with the optimist green fleet sailing just one within the port, owing to the challenging conditions.
Ramadhan Tito from Indonesia emerged the winner of the optimist main fleet, which was the largest fleet with 67 sailors. Saranwong Poopat was favored by the winds again, as he rose to the second position after getting the gun in both the races resulting in fellow Thai sailor Panwa Boonak moving down to the third place.
Indonesian sailor Samsaurdi who has been on the top of the charts since day one emerged the winner in the Laser 4.7 class followed by Nancy Highfield from Hong Kong. Highfield, who was happy to have bagged the silver overall, was comfortable sailing in the challenging conditions. “My best races were today, hiking upwind was a little tiring nevertheless I am glad it is over,” she said. Koteshwar Rao replaced Ram Milan Yadav in the third place, bagging the bronze.
Vishnu Saravanan from India, who had been leading the laser radial class since day one got the gun in one of the two races of the day, thereby sealing his position for the gold while on the other hand Christopher Bezy from Hong Kong got the gun in one race and finished third in another, pushing Indian Sailor Rishab Nayar to the third place thereby taking home the silver. “It was really nice, the conditions were pretty windy and it was good,” Bezy said delighted to head home, but at the same time having fallen in love with the conditions here.
Anand Thakur and Pradeep Thakur, who were leading the 29er open category throughout won the class having got the gun in all the races except two. The same was the case with sailors Aryaman Dutta and Vishnu Sujeesh who won the 420 open class.
Dayne Coehlo who was leading the RS1 class from day one was the undisputed winner of the class. Having enjoyed the challenging conditions here on the final day, he said that “This is my favorite kind of condition and I am a little sad that we had just two races today.”
The Regatta concluded with a grand prize distribution ceremony at the Taj Club House, Chennai in the august presence of Vice Admiral H. C. S. Bisht, AVSM Flag officer Commanding- in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command. Also, present at the ceremony were Lt. Gen. R.K. Anand General Commanding Officer, Dakshin Bharat Area; Shri. Har Sahai Meena, IAS, Commissioner of Tourism and Managing Director Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation; Shri. N. Subramainyan, Deputy Managing Director and President of Lansen & Toubro and Shri U.V. Mannar Executive Director Indian Oil Corporation. The winners, Jury and the Race committee were felicitated in the ceremony.