Written by Sailor Bob
Weymouth, UK: The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta saw sailors from 60 nations involved, The two-week long event aimed to replicate conditions expected at next year’s Games. Competitors from all 10 Olympic sailing disciplines tried out five alternative courses over 170 races.
There were the usual suspects who made their presence felt, the event was not that great for the Indian contigent. The Indian contingent comprised of Nachhatar Singh Johal in the Finn, Rohini Rau in the Laser Radial and the team of Pushparajan Muttu and Narendra Rajput in the 470 dinghy. Nacchhatar Johal finished 25th out of 27, Rohini 43rd out of 49 and the team of Muttu-Rajput finished a disappointing could only manage a 31st in a fleet of 32. To remind everyone, this is the same location where the 2012 Olympic Regatta will take place. I would avoid commenting on the performances as I was not available first hand to view the performances, but I would surely like to examine “The Great Indian Olympic Sailing Dream”.
Olympics no doubt is the most prestigious of sporting platforms and to compete at that level, perform and make their country proud is the dream of every sportsperson. In the sport of sailing we have three hopefuls with immense talent and support to make it for India at the London games. If we look back, since the 1992 games there hasn’t been a single team that has out-rightly qualified for the Olympic games. The last two entries have been wild-cards, wild-cards which had their own share of controversy.
Rohini has been on the circuit for quite sometime now, with fantastic support and has produced some brilliant results. Hope is that she can make up for her weak performance at the pre-olympic regatta with some really strong performances. Her dream of becoming the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics might well be within reach with her experience of having sailed in Perth before.
Nachhatar Singh Johal has been a prolific sailor on the domestic front in various classes. He has sailed the Olympics before and now has great support from the army. The highlight of his Beijing Olympic venture was a fourth place finish in the second race, he is expected to make the cut to sail his second Olympics, or will it be another wild-card?
Pushparajan Muttu and Narendra Rajput have not fared as well the other two. Olympic qualification looks bleak. They too enjoy strong support from the army. But, poor finishes earlier in the year and now at the Olympic Test Regatta shows that it will be really hard for these guys to make it to the Olympics unless they come up with some turnaround performance in the World Championships at Perth.
What I have observed in the three cases above, that there isn’t a second team from India participating at the same level as these sailors regularly. As seen in the past, a few sailors end up participating in such International events and gain exposure to the level of competition not present on the home front. How big a gap is there between the no.1 & no.2 in Indian sailing? When will I hear these no.2’s challenge for the top spot nationally? When will this situation change? I will only ask questions and leave the answers to the people who make the policies.
One last question would be; If none of the above qualify, Who exactly will get the wild-card and how will it be decided in between three teams participating in different classes and 4 sailors of different calibre?
Dreams are the touchstones of our character- Henry David Thoreau
Indian sailors at the Games
- Munich, 1972, Soli Contractor and A.A. Basith, 29th in Flying Dutchman Class.
- Montreal, 1976, No Indian Team qualified
- Moscow, 1980, No Indian Team qualified
- Los Angeles, 1984, Farokh Tarapore & Dhruv Bhandari, 17th out of 29 in 470 Class
- Seoul, 1988, F. Tarapore & Kelly Rao, 17th/29 in 470 Class
- Barcelona, 1992, F. Tarapore & Cyrus Cama, 23rd/37 in 470 Class
- Los Angeles, 1984, No Indian Team qualified
- Athens, 2000, No Indian Team qualified
- Athens, 2004, Malav Shroff & Sumeet Patel, 19th/19 in 49er Class
- Beijing, 2008, Nachhatar Singh Johal, 23rd/26 in Finn Class
- London, 2012, ?