Pune: The most anticipated & eagerly awaited sailing event in India kicked off on Friday, the 3rd of June at Peacock Bay on the Khadakwasla Dam. True to its prestigious tradition, it saw 80 teams from 18 clubs across India participate, with the best from the Army, Navy & Civil clubs joining in for good measure.
The championship was hotly contested with a single point separating the first and second placed teams. Early showers brought light winds to the tournament and reduced the series to 5 races. The milder conditions, accentuated by shifty winds, put the sailor’s grit and endurance to the test.
Eleven teams were seeded into the gold fleet while the other 70 battled for the remaining 37 spots. The gold fleet was particularly competitive with general recalls and black flags flying through a majority of the races.
Asian Games silver medalist Trunal Helegaonkar and his dependable crew, Suraj Singh took the top spot; a jump of 3 places from their 4th position last year. Last year’s winners, Mehul Ashar and Saif Shaikh of Mumbai Yacht Club came in a close second, followed by Prasad Shelar & Varun Raj, who’d held the same position at last year’s event. Last year’s second placed Ayaz Shaikh finished 4th this year.
The event saw changes across the overall standings in the Enterprise class rankings, promoting Mehul Ashar & Saif Shaikh to 1st position with 1750 points. Trunal Helegaonkar rose to 2nd place from his previous standing of 4th with an aggregate of 1700 points, while Ayaz Shaikh dropped from 1st to 3rd position with 833 points.
The silver fleet enjoyed a greater part of the last day and was eventually won by Spr. Girish and Spr. Narayana (TC Bangalore).
The Regatta party doubled as the prize distribution with Dy Comdt. Air vice Marshall AS Bhonsle (AVSM, VSM) overseeing the proceedings and the awards ceremony. This year the prizes awarded were
- Inland Water Trophy : Awarded to Trunal Helegaonkar / Suraj Singh for finishing first with 12 points from 5 races.
- Junior Shield : Awarded to Cdt R Yadav / Cdt Mohit Lal (NDA Sailing Club)
- Youngest Helmsman Trophy : Awarded to Anshuman Acharya for helming at the age of 11 years
- Best Lady Helmsman : Awarded to the charismatic Hema Mehta for the being the finest lady helm.
The following teams took the gun’s in the golden fleet:
Race No.1: Ashish Patel / Arunachalam (AYN)
Race No.2: Prasad Shelar / Varun Raj (IWSA)
Race No.3: Trunal Helegaonkar / Suraj Singh (IWSA)
Race No.4: Prasad Shelar / Varun Raj (IWSA) & Trunal Helegaonkar / Suraj Singh (IWSA)
Race No.5: Ayaz Shaikh / TS Chaturvedi (AYN)
As always, the hospitality and execution of the event was handled with a superior level of professionalism that all of us in the sailing community have come to expect out of the NIEC and a collective thank you goes out to the National Defense Academy.
On a lighter note, the event was replete with a number of DNF’s, Football being played on the lawn between wind shifts, great sportsman ship, post racing banter and evening revelry. The Regatta party at the peacock bay lawn was expertly orchestrated with an active dance floor that saw the likes of Cdr. Abhimanyu Patankar, excellent food and drinks arrangements and the electric atmosphere that only a successful sailing event can bring.
From everyone at Sailing Times India, this is an adieu. Hope to you see you all there next year.