For the small, but growing, community of tiny sailors in the city, October is usually a month they look forward to. And with good reason too — at the fifth India International Regatta, hosted at the Chennai Port, the city’s youngsters get to tangle sails with competitiors from New Zealand, Malaysia, Seychelles, USA and four other countries. “Every year, this regatta for youngsters has become bigger and better, with more international sailors coming in. It’s a tremendous time for our young sailors and will be a great experience for them,” said Commodore of TNSA, Ashok Thakkar.
A whopping 106 young sailors will be participating in 12 rounds of races over the next week — they will be using three classes of boats, the tiny Optimist, the Laser 4.7 and the Aussie 29er — to match wits, winds and sails on the open sea.
Slated to begin on Tuesday, the regatta was formally inaugurated by Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan, at the Sailing Association of Tamil Nadu’s pier at the Chennai Port Trust. While he was speaking, Thakkar slipped in a longstanding demand that both sailing clubs at Chennai had been grappling with for a while. “We have learnt that the port is considering revision of tariffs and I would like to remind the Minister that we are paying commercial rates, which is a drain on our already small resources. It would be a real help for the sport if we have a permanent allocation of land to berth yachts and operate our boats from,” asked Thakkar. He also pointed out that the Port’s board had recommended giving the clubs a concession on no less than three occasions.
Not one to shy away from answering requests, Vasan said that he had already asked the ChPT Chairman to extend as much concession as they could manage.
“These events reflect the image of progressive sports and the port trust has always supported sailing. As soon as the land policy, which is expected to be tabled in the cabinet within a month or two, is passed, I will surely give a green signal for a token amount for these clubs to procure a place and also see about getting them a place for longstanding berthing,” he said.
Commodore Amar Mahadevan, Naval Officer in Charge (TN and Pondy), IG S P Sharma, Commander of ICGS (East) and Atulya Mishra, ChPT Chairman were also present.