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India's best sailors vie for top honours in annual JJ Memorial Cup this weekend

Thursday, 27 March 2014 - 9:02pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Late JS Jehangir was a sailing enthusiast from Mumbai. His old friends, Arjuna award winner Surinder Mongia and renowned sailor-turned-coach Homi Motivala recalled the days when he would do weird things as sailing all the way to Muscat in a simple boat with his friends. Such was JJ's passion for sailing that the JJ Memorial Cup was instituted in his name more than a decade ago.

The 13th edition of Deloitte-JJ Memorial Cup will be held at the Mumbai harbour on March 29 and 30 and will see about 225 sailors in various age groups vying for top honours in three races. For the first time, this event will see about 10 children from economically weaker background participating in the competition.

The teenaged children are from Akanksha Foundation and have been trained by the West Coast Marine Sailing School, Chowpatty, and their participation is to show that sailing is not only for the elite class but also for commoners.

Keeping this in mind, this edition has the largest number of participants and makes it the largest championship India have currently, said Aashim Mongia, commodore of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, on Thursday.

Thirty 'A' class boats (big boats) of different sizes ranging from the new 22-foot one in memory of JJ to the 54-foot Sun Odessey besides the Mumbai Harbour classes namely Seabird and Lightening will be seen in action during the weekend.

According the schedule, there will be a Super Yacht Harbour Race at 3pm on March 29 followed by the race to Mandva Jetty. The return race will be on March 30. The winner across all the three races will be awarded the coveted JJ Memorial Trophy.

The classes of the races are 'A' Class, Seabirds and Lightening, and Toppers/Optimists for juniors.

Among those who will be seen in action are some of India's finest and decorated races in Motivala, Mahesh Ramachandran, Surinder Mongia and his sons Nitin and Aashim. Mongia (Sr) and his two sons form a unique father-sons combination where all the three are Arjuna award winners in this field.

It will not be an easy outing for the sailors, though. Motivala, one of the very few sportsperson in India to have won the Arjuna, Rajiv Khel Ratna and Dronacharya awards, said that though sailing is physically demanding, the mental element far outweighs the physical aspect. “It is very much a technical sport. Like golf, you are challenging yourself on water. It is like chess on water, competing with the other sailors at different positions on water. Besides, you have the elements of nature to contend with,” Motivala said.

The hosts, Royal Bombay Yacht Club, have associated with the Yacht Club of Hyderabad, which has pioneered the cause of socially responsible sailing in Hyderabad and one of their young sailors is a son of a single housemaid who has been included in the Asian Games core probables coaching programme.

Motivala added: “Big boat racing in Mumbai Harbour has reached an inflection point and I can only see it grow to heights from here. I have sailed in many parts of the world and apart from a Marina, Mumbai has everything it needs to make it a spectacular international sporting destination for sailing.”

(guru.krishnan@dnaindia.net)


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