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LIFESTYLE - Sailing:     ISAF NATIONS CUP - INDIA AIM TO COMPLETE MATCH RACE HAT-TRICK IN DUBAI

LIFESTYLE - Sailing:     ISAF NATIONS CUP - INDIA AIM TO COMPLETE MATCH RACE HAT-TRICK IN DUBAI

29.03.2006: LIFESTYLE - Sailing:     ISAF NATIONS CUP - INDIA AIM TO COMPLETE MATCH RACE HAT-TRICK IN DUBAI



New Asian champions chase qualifying place for ISAF Nations Cup final

Dubai, UAE, 29th March, 2005: New Asian champions India will be aiming for a third consecutive match racing success in Dubai next week as a worldwide sailing battle gets under way for the ISAF Nations Cup.

Mahesh Ramchandran carries Indian hopes into the regional qualifying event at Dubai International Marine Club as skipper of the same crew which lost in the final of the inaugural Dubai Match Race at the same venue in January.

Since then the combination of Ramchandran, Nitin Mongia, Sanjeev Chauhan, G.L.Yadav and Rajesh Dhulaji have won the Indian National Match Racing Championships in Mumbai in February and carried off the match racing gold medal at the Asian Championships which concluded in Doha last weekend.

Boosted by those two title triumphs, the Indians have high hopes that they can outperform teams from the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Turkey in Dubai next week to win a place in the ISAF Nations Cup grand final taking place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland from 5-9 September.

"We have the same team that won the Dubai Match Race earlier this year," said Ramchandran, who overcame some difficult moments on his previous visit to the emirate.

"The other guys have been kind not to drop me as their helm in spite of all the mistakes I made in Dubai in January. We have now been match racing pretty continuously for the past two months and are aiming to do well in the Nations Cup regional finals.

"The teams we’re up against are pretty good and we’re expecting some close racing for sure, but we are confident about doing well as we have gelled together as a crew now."

Next week’s qualifying round at Dubai International Marine Club will be followed by other qualifiers in Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, Ecuador, the US Virgin Islands and New Zealand as teams from around the world battle for a place in the grand final.

Following an opening ceremony at Dubai International Marine Club next Monday, teams will compete in a daily round-robin series of match races leading to the final on Sunday week, and enthusiasts can follow the event by visiting www.dimc-uae.com/sailing/isaf

The Indians will also be using the first of eight ISAF Nations Cup qualifiers taking place worldwide over the next four months as part of their build-up to the Asian Games in Doha in December.

They are building a reputation as an extremely competent force in match racing by moulding an efficient team from a collection of highly experienced individual sailors.

The Indians’ performance in reaching the final of the Dubai Match Race in January catapulted skipper Ramchandran from 203 to 110 in the ISAF match racing world rankings, and he is on course to become his country’s first ever top 100 ranked match racer.

Mongia was OK dingy world Champion in 2003, won bronze and silver medals at the Asian Match Racing Championships in 1993 and 1995 and finished runner up in the Essen Euro Cup in 1996.

Ramchandran was runner up in the 1999 Enterprise World Championships while Yadav won an Enterprise bronze medal in the in 2001 World Championships and Chauhan and Dhulaji are among the top 420 class sailors in India.

Ramchandran and Mongia now contest Olympic Star events together and are currently 28th in the ISAF world rankings while Chauhan and Dhulaji are campaigning in 420 and 470 class racing.

Captions: New Asian champions India will be aiming for their third match race success of the year in Dubai next week after a final defeat in the emirate in January.

- Tony Lewis, Narajan Marar, Total Communications DUBAI -

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29.03.2006 / MaP

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