Olympic Games 2012

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 Rau - Laser Radial

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 Johal - Finn

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?

P Muttu & N Rajput - 470 class

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, ?

6 Responses

  1. It is learnt that since the advent of the qualification system for Olympics, no Indian team has actually gone for an Olympics based on performance and qualification…..the only entries I have heard of have been “WILD CARDS” which too have been surrounded by controversy and caused much acrimony back home.

    The fact that there is no depth in Indian sailing is more evident when the teams start preparing for a major event.  The fact is that there is no number two or three team to challenge the ones being sent abroad and hence there is a serious chance of complacency setting in for the top sailors as has happened in the recent past.  The domestic scene is too dominated by a few and rarely do new faces come up…….less the OPTIMIST maybe.

    If one looks at the sailors across classes, they are the same faces who have been around for the last two decades or more.  The ones with the most money, time and resources are those from the ARMED FORCES and anyone else making a serious attempt at the international level is doing so out of own resources or then is lucky enough to have the contacts to get a sponsor. 

    The focus of the federation is at producing FUTURE champions from the existing OPTIMIST flock and hoping that they stick around for a loooong time and eventually represent India at an Olympics and get a podium finish.  Its kind of wishing that we have a future BEN AINSLIE or some CHINESE type athlete in our midst today who will grow up sailing consistently and with the same amount of self motivation to ultimately bring us glory!!  The present day policy makers will look behind then and 80 – 90 year olds and say…..'”LOOK, WE WERE THE PATH BREAKERS WHO LED INDIA TO THIS MEDAL”.

    The chances of these young performers ultimately representing India in an Olympics and winning a medal are pretty bleak since:-

    1.THERE IS NO STRUCTURED PROGRAMME FOR THE SAILORS WHEN THEY FINISH WITH THE OPTIMIST. 

    2.WHAT CLASS DO THEY STEP INTO NEXT, WHERE DOES THE BOAT COME FROM, WHO FUNDS THE SAIL, THE TRAINING, COMPETITION, DIET ETC. RIGHT UPTO THE OLYMPICS AND THE ULTIMATE “MEDAL”.

    3.WHAT ABOUT EDUCATION….AND PARENTS EXPECTATIONS? IN INDIA, AFTER 10TH THE RAT RACE STARTS….EVEN EARLIER. SO WILL THEY DEVOTE TIME TO SAILING OR THEN MAKE USE OF THEIR EARLIER CERTIFICATES TO GET SPORTS QUOTA SEATS AND CALL IT A DAY…..WHICH AGAIN DEFEATS THE ENTIRE AIM!!

    4.HONESTLY, HOW MANY PARENTS HAVE THE GUMPTION TO TELL THEIR KIDS TO SAIL OVER STUDY……..NOTWITHSTANDING RANBIR KAPOOR ASKING FOR MARKS FOR SPORTS!!

    Unlike other international federations, our federation is dominated by the ARMED FORCES and hence is restricted by its vision and reach.  To be really effective, the federation needs a full time CEO and a corporate approach to its functioning.  It needs people who understand the sport to partner with people who understand how to market it and expand its reach…..not just government appointees who are there because their organization finds it convenient to appoint them for various reasons or because they know people in power who dole out them the post!!  This should bring in more people and sponsors to the sport, make it affordable and then produce some depth in the sport. 

    Today the federation is polarized.  Sailors who were part of the federation and had knowledge of the sport and its management have left in disgust or been eased out in favour of more malleable material.  Till lately the federation was embroiled in a struggle to establish its dominance across various facets of the sport etc.  Even today, there is politicking, nepotism, favouritism, settling of personal scores….. Plans of states etc to set up academies are scuttled due to interference, back biting and rumour mongering.  Federation is involved in micro managing the sport instead of making policy decisions and steering the future of the sport.  It is a game of dominance of one faction over the other.  At the end of the day, there is some selfish motive or the other for the way decisions that are being taken….whether for personal gains or then for favouring some person or the other…….how can we move ahead.

    We cannot establish ourselves in any one class and we are introducing more Olympic classes!!! These new classes are being sailed by the same sailors who have been around for ages and have stagnated in the last class….they now see an opportunity to put their experience into use, master the new class while others struggle with it, make use of their organizations financial muscle and the cycle of foreign training and no depth repeats itself!!

    There are some serious folks out there still, but the Indian federation and sailing as a sport needs some serious introspection and overhaul.

  2. Our approach to Olympic sailing has been so short sighted that it is nothing short of pathetic.Valiant efforts by a few who are not supported by an establishment which does not have a vision can hardly succeed.I wish the aspirants good luck. at least they are trying to succeed for their self esteem. 

  3. JhackMack – you are so right in describing the state of affairz in the sport … Glad to see some honesty in introspection …
    Hope these will lead us to better pathways …

  4. all man indian sailor didnt qualify for london olympic nd didnt get any wild card nw here is last hope from rohini rau kash wo qualify kar le :\

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