- PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU Ragi Rajnikanth (left), Dheer Singhi (centre) and Vishnu Sujeesh with V.V.S. Laxman at the prize distribution ceremony.
Chennai’s Vishnu Sujeesh had to fight hard before lifting the title in the Topper Class Nationals, part of the ongoing Deloitte Monsoon regatta at the Hussainsagar lake here on Thursday.
Vishnu and his main rival Dheer Singhi, who won two races, was level at 12 points each. The tie remained unresolved after discard since both had four wins and four second positions.
The rules state that in such cases, the position in the last race will decide the winner. Vishnu, who finished just three seconds ahead in the ninth and final race, thus became India’s first Topper National champion by a whisker.
The talented Dheer had to be content with the runner-up spot, while local lad Ragi Rajnikanth finished with a bronze. Bangalore’s Avanti Menon finished a creditable fourth and was declared the best girl sailor in the regatta.
All the races in the Topper class Gold fleet saw a hard battle between Sujeesh and Dheer, with Rajnikanth also a threat. Dheer sailed admirably and showed good understanding of the winds.
In the Match Racing event, top seed Ayaz Shaikh went through to the finals with straight wins across the two round robins and the semifinals. His track record at the Monsoon Regatta has been impressive with straight wins in the qualifiers.
His archrival Atool Sinha was dogged by bad luck with four catastrophic equipment failures, which made him struggle even against Manu Jayaram of Hyderabad. Former India cricketer V.V.S. Laxman gave away the prizes.
The results (Topper Class):
Seventh Race: 1. Dheer Singhi, 2. Vishnu Sujeesh, 3. Rajnikanth; Eighth Race: 1. Dheer , 2. Vishnu , 3. Rajnikanth; Ninth Race: 1. Vishnu , 2. Dheer , 3. Rajnikanth.