CHENNAI: In the nick of time! That was the general sentiment as the India International Regatta came to a close here on Saturday ahead of another potential storm warning. In one corner though, Pete Conway was imparting some advice to a cluster of U-21 sailors.
In his fifth year as the Yachting Association of India head coach, the pipe-toting Englishman sounds happy with the youngsters’ continued improvement, but stresses on the need for more training. “Indians are a talented lot. From having 15 identifiable international sailors, the number has doubled of late. The main problem this year has been disruptions in training; we’ve only managed to do one-eighths of what’s required,” he told Express.
When quizzed about the Olympic class, Conway rattles off names like 49er, 49erFX, RS:X, Laser, Laser Radial, 470 and Finn before stopping to clarify that many of India’s hopefuls are in the fledgling stage. “They’re in youth class. It’ll take a while for them to flower.”
The names that invariably come up when talk veers towards the Rio Olympics are Varsha Gautham and Aishwariya Nedunchezhiyan on the 49erFX, followed by KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar on the 49er. But the foursome suffered a less than stellar outing at the World Championships in Buenos Aires over a week ago. “We were two weeks late in getting there due to visa issues and didn’t get enough time to break in the new equipment,” Conway added. Nethra Kumanan in Laser Radial is another medal prospect.
Originally slated to train in Abu Dhabi this month, those plans fell through due to procedural problems. However, the squad is going to Miami for the second leg of the World Cup. “Hopefully, we’ll manage to get there in time and get ourselves some international exposure. I’m sure we’ll qualify for the Rio Olympics, but winning a medal is difficult. The target is the next Games.” Vision 2020... perhaps that’s the mark of a good coach.
Results: Optimist Boys: 1. Saif Saeed (UAE), 2. Chitresh Tatha (IND), 3. Navyn Prabhakar (IND). Optimist Girls: 1. Harshita Tomar (IND), 2. Uma Chouhan (IND), 3. Nithya Balachander (IND). Laser 4.7: 1. Mohammed Abdulkareem (UAE), 2. Rishab Nayar (IND), 3. Vishnu Sujeesh (IND). Laser Radial: 1. Vishnu Saravanan (IND), 2. Johnny Durcan (IRL), 3. Dheer Singhi (IND). 29er: 1. Casper Ladeford & Jakob Jensen (DEN), 2. Anand Thakur & Alankar Suryavanshi (IND), 3. Aniketh Rajaram & Naveen Kumanan (IND).