Thailand: While Ayaz Shaikh may not be the best sailor in the country right now, he may be the perfect solution to take Indian sailing to the top of the world in future.
Ayaz with crew Sandip Jain, Nijeesh Bhaskar and Santhosh P V won India’s first ever gold in the Thailand Match Race Challenge 2011 at the Royal Varuna Yacht club.
His victory against the defending champions Singapore and the fact that he has reached his career best world ranking of 104, a jump of 636 places in just 10 months, means that people know him more as a young upcoming talented sailor than the man who has destroyed the competition this year.
After winning the first match of the finals very comfortably, it was a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the second match to bring home the Gold. In the round robin they were placed third overall behind Singapore and Malaysia. In the semi-finals they thrashed Malaysia 2 – 1 to reach the finals.
India’s second team in the event skippered by Atool Sinha with crew Imo Lemnok, Rahul Rai and Samal Pradhan finished 4th overall. They lost to Malaysia’s Jeremy Koh in the petit finals.
Sailing has missed the kind of edge that Farokh Tarapore and Homi Motivala brought on the Indian waters, and instead of looking for the next guy everyone can get behind, the sport should have been looking for a guy like Ayaz.
Not only is the man clean cut and talented, the fact that he is a serious champion and India’s No.1 while still having a great time makes him the new face of sailing.
1st – INDIA (Ayaz Shaikh, Sandip Jain, Nijeesh Bhaskar, Santosh P V)
2nd – SINGAPORE (Maximilian Soh, Christopher Lim, Justin Wong, Andrew Paul Chan)
3rd – MALAYSIA (Jeremey Koo, Ng Ai Li Looi, Sing Yew, Fariz Sawal)
4th – INDIA (Atool Sinha, Imo lemnok, Rahul Rai, Samal Pradhan)