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Governor's Gold Cup 2015 at Nainital Yacht Club

by Sucharita Kamath 16 Oct 2015 20:39 BST 12-14 October 2015
Tamilnadu Sailing Association team wins the Governor's Gold Cup 2015 © Sucharita Kamath

Tamilnadu Sailing Association team wins

A fleet of beautiful, century-old, mini-yachts sets sail at the second Governor's Gold Cup event. A boat on Nainital usually means one of two things: either a swan-shaped plastic contraption with cycling pedals, being propelled by grinning tourists taking selfies, or a more elegant wooden long boat being rowed by a local Kumaoni, with grinning tourists taking self¬ies. The second week of October was different. This tal (lake), the most famous in Uttarakhand, saw boats with candy-striped sails setting out to win a trophy. There were plenty of grins and selfies, but also a fierce competitive spirit.

The Governor's Gold Cup Sailing Regatta was held from October 12 to 14, a historic event of sorts. After the exit of the British, the boat racing tradition here gradually fell into decline, until it stopped altogether. The boat house remained, more as a place for tour¬ists to grab an evening drink than for sailing. But local yacht owners got together last year to revive the sport. The main reason for which is the Nainital Yacht Club, set up in 1910. This was one of the highest sailing clubs in the world, at an altitude of 2,084 mtrs.

This regatta was an initiative of the yacht owners of Nainital, the Uttarkhand Governor and the state tourism department. The host team, Nainital Yacht Club (NYC), made it to the final race. The atmosphere was electric. The two finalists, the NYC and the Tamilnadu Sailing Association (TNSA), had four boats each — an amazing sight it was, their eight sails rushing over the sparkling lake waters, while the green mountains rose all around. The mini-yachts used for the race were constructed during the early 1900s by Linton Hope, an English naval architect and yachtsman. He built these little beauties, called 'Linton Hope Half-Raters', espe¬cially to suit the conditions of the Naini lake. The only other place in the world where this type of boats can be found is the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club in England.

On the morning of the final day, a large crowd gathered at the boat club, which has a large deck, perfect for viewing the race. Made entirely of wood, the club has an old-world charm about it. Men, women and many children, dressed up in their Sunday best, chattered over food and drinks. A gentle breeze ruffled the lake surface, which glimmered like a thousand diamonds under the sun that managed to filter through the fog. The tiny yachts with their colourful sails made for a picture postcard setting.

The final race between saw wind conditions change constantly on the lake, requiring great skill with adjusting the sails — and TNSA led from the beginning. With the home team in the fray, pulses raced on the viewing deck as the Kumaon Regiment Band played the back-ground music.

TNSA which had set the stage winning the first race on day one with the team of Commodore Ashok Thakkar and Aniketh Rajaram finishing first, managed to hold out to win with positions 2, 3, 4 and 8. The TNSA may have won the regatta, along with the youngest sailor and best lady helm awards, but it was a magical end to a great contest, in which the real victor was the sailing tradition of Nainital!

The TNSA Team:

  • Mr. Ashok Thakkar (commodore TNSA) – Captain
  • Dr. M. Arumugam
  • Varun Thakkar
  • K.C.Ganapathy
  • Aishwarya Nedu
  • Varsha Gautham – Best lady helm award
  • Aniketh Rajaram
  • Naveen Kumanan – Youngest Sailor award