The opening ceremony was preceded by a press sail off where members of the media had the opportunity to sail in the last two flights of the clinic and experience the thrill of match racing first hand. The ceremony itself began with Farokh TARAPORE, the President of The Match Racing Association of India thanking the INWTC (MB) and the Western Naval Command for all their support in terms of infrastructure for conduct of the event, the Yachting Association of India (YAI) for their continued assistance, and the Umpire and race committee team for their time and enthusiasm without which the event would have been a non starter. TARAPORE also thanked sponsor Aashim MONGIA of West Coast Marine who is also a competitor, Vice-President of the Association and an Arjuna Awardee in the sport. MONGIA then took centre stage by reiterating his commitment and vision of helping bring bigger and better match racing events to the country. At the end of the ceremony, International Umpire Ajay BALRAM, an Honorary Life Member of the MRAI, declared the event open. He also relayed the decision of the Asian Sailing Federation to include match racing at the next Asian Games in China.
The seven competing teams represent India and Thailand led by skippers Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND), Aashim MONGIA (IND), Farokh TARAPORE (IND), Neil SEMPLE (THA), Ayesha Katherine LOBO (IND), Nitin MONGIA (IND) and Pallavi NAIK (IND). Both the women's teams, skippered by LOBO and NAIK, were representing India, guaranteeing them a place in the Grand Final of the ISAF Nations Cup in Brazil next year. In the open event, the four Indian skippers would battle to see who would take on Thailand's SEMPLE for a place in Brazil. The format of the event pitted all the competing teams together in a double round robin, before the knockout stages decided the qualifying teams.
Day one of the racing got off to a sedate start in terms of wind with the first couple of races being sailed in 4-6 knots in very shifty conditions, making for some great racing for the spectators! The wind swung around and built up to 8-10 knots for the rest of the day providing ideal match racing conditions. The most interesting match of the day seemed to be between Finn sailor MONGIA and top-ranked Indian skipper RAMCHANDRAN. MONGIA started behind with a penalty on, got ahead on the first beat chased doggedly by RAMCHANDRAN only to attempt to take his penalty in a crossing situation that ended up being the outlawed dial down on the beat and getting a double penalty for his efforts! Eight flights were completed by the end of day's play with Aashim MONGIA going into the lead followed by TARAPORE and RAMCHANDRAN.
Day two had some interesting match ups early on with the two women's teams facing off early in the day. NAIK lost the start but LOBO had an outstanding penalty and finally passed her on the run by some slick work by the spin trimmer Rohini in difficult conditions to gain the lead and finally win the race. They then carried on the winning habit by beating the Thailand team to end the first round robin with two wins. The action towards the end of the day typically heated up with Aashim MONGIA whipping RAMCHANDRAN for the second time in a race that seemed a comedy of errors, and TARAPORE and RAMCHANDRAN being involved in a fierce match which involved penalty of work for the umpires and ended with a win for RAMCHANDRAN. Nine flights were completed by the end of the second day's play.
Day three will see the completion of the double round robin, followed by the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Finals sail-off between RAMCHANDRAN from India and SEMPLE from Thailand in a first to three points format.
Day four is scheduled as the final day of racing with the semis and finals of the event to be sailed starting at 11:00 local time. The prizegiving ceremony will follow in the evening.
ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final - Qualified Nations
Brazil - host
France - defending champion
Brazil - host
France - defending champion
Find out more about the fifth edition of the ISAF Nations Cup and learn more on the history of the event and past winners at the ISAF Nations Cup microsite www.sailing.org/nationscup.