Monday, June 29, 2009

The Royal Madras Yacht Club’s “Vestas 420 Sailing Nationals 2009”

The last 3 days at the Royal Madras Yacht Club, Chennai were extremely memorable, for various reasons. Even though my partner (Pallavi Shanbhag) was only 17 and a light weight, we managed to put up a good show against the army and navy men.

The first day was a mixture of highs and lows. The wind was a steady 15 - 18 knots, in the first race of the day we had a bad start and nearly capsized once or twice. We finished 11th. In Race 2, we actually did capsize after rounding the top mark 3rd! My toe strap broke, and I was sent flying into the water. But we still managed to finish 9th. We redeemed ourselves in the next race by sailing a flawless race from start to finish and succeeded in finishing 2nd overall!

The next day we had similar wind conditions but bigger waves. Excellent conditions for surfing! We started off really well in the 4th race rounding the top mark 4th, but a trivial mistake sent us into the water and finished 13th. The day didn’t get any better for us as we finished outside the top 5.

The third day of racing proved that even though our competitors were 40 kilos heavier, weight doesn’t matter. Farokh Tarapore, former 2002 World Champion, gave a few important tips to help us sail faster and smarter. It must have helped because we finished 2nd, 3rd and 3rd overall.

Day four was a thrilling last race. We finished 2nd overall!

Pallavi and I (RMYC) won the women’s title and finished 5th overall. This was great considering we hadn’t practiced much for the event. This is the second consecutive year of winning the Vestas 420 Women’s Sailing National Trophy.

Honourable Member of Parliament Ms Kanimozhi graciously gave away the awards to all the sailors at a Grand Regatta Nite at the Taj Coromandel, Chennai on the night of June 20. It was a wonderful ending to a well organized and fun Regatta. Kudos to the Royal Madras Yacht Club!

Well, I am off to Germany early hours of June 23 for some training and then to Denmark for the European Championships in the Laser Radial from July 9 to 17. My aim is to do well in the Gold Fleet.

A big thank you to everyone for their good wishes and for following my progress! I will strive to make you and India proud….





Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mumbai Ahoy!

Mumbai Ahoy!
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 09:12 Rohini Rau

After winning the Women’s Laser Radial title for the fifth consecutive year and finishing 4th overall at the Chennai Coastal Nationals last month, I am now off to Mumbai to take part in the Ocean Blue YAI Multi Class Regatta in the Laser Radial class.

This event is also the selection trials to select the top teams for foreign exposure for all the different classes. Winning isn’t enough. The final decision to send or not to send for foreign exposure rests with the selection committee.

I will be sailing the Laser Radial in Mumbai after nearly 2 years! It will be great to sail there again after all the experience I have gained. The monsoons are always challenging in Mumbai, so I am definitely looking forward to some good racing in the coming week. It should be an exciting event as there will be many different classes of boats competing at the same time.

Unfortunately the Laser Radial is an open category at the Asian Games 2010, so I will have to compete against veterans like Rajesh Choudhury from the Army Yachting Node who has already won 2 Asian Games medals. But no matter what the outcome of this regatta, I will be heading off to Denmark to take part in the Laser Radial Europeans slated for July and the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan to be held in August. So I am going into this regatta with no pressure. I know I just have to sail my best.

I am trying to make it a point to take part in all the national events that are being held this year: Chennai Coastal Nationals, YAI Multi class regatta – Mumbai, and the Laser Inland Nationals – Hyderabad. This will make sure that I get good racing practice in home waters which is crucial for important selection trials.

But for now my focus is the 2012 Olympics. I am systematically training towards qualifying India in the Laser Radial Class which is the women’s single hander dingy. It will not be easy but I am determined to give it my best shot!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rohini Rau Sails India into History Books - Wins Bronze in Izola Spring Cup (Slovenia)

(Report written by Ajay Rau – fellow international sailor, brother and student of Communications & Journalism at UNSW, Sydney)
On Sunday 12th April, 2009, Rohini made history for Indian Olympic sailing at the 2009 Izola Spring cup –ISAF Grade 3 event. The Royal Madras Yacht Club sailor is the First Indian Woman to finish on the podium in an International Olympic Class Regatta.

This is her first International medal in the single hander Radial class. She is not new to making history. Team Pallavi Naik and Rohini Rau won India’s first women’s sailing Asian Gold medal in the 420 Class in Mumbai in January 2004. And in October 2008 Rohini was part of the first Indian Match Racing Team to win an Asian Gold at the Regional finals of the Nations Cup held in Mumbai. But this medal is even more special as this medal was achieved in a single hander Olympic Class of Boats in International waters.

Despite having the worst possible start to a regatta (DSQ: scoring maximum points) Rohini managed to climb back strong and win the bronze medal. She did well to keep the home favorite at bay and only gave Marusa Krasevac (SLO) a sniff of the bronze medal. She fought hard against Fellow Gold and Silver medalisits, Elisabetta Macchini (ITA) and Katharina Roeggla (AUT).

Rohini’s initial reaction after winning the medal.

" It feels good........I mean I was only 2 points away from silver and then I messed up my last race .It was the first time I had got 2 yellow flag penalties in the first race itself (DSQ) in spite of all that...I guess bronze wasn't so bad.....”
Her reaction shows she is not content with just making it to thepodium. She has a burning desire to win.

4 times Olympian and Coach Allen Jullie (SEY) was all praise. This is what he had to say about Rohini:

“She kept a cool head and focused right through the regatta. Her goal this month was to just get into shape as she had been racing different classes of boats. She surprised all of us by winning the bronze medal after a 1 year break from international competition in the radial class. She has potential to create waves in the international sailing scene. She is a medical student; yet she has been able to train hard and sail. I am happy to be working with the Indian athlete.”

When asked how it feels to be the first Indian Woman to Win a medal in a Women's Olympic Class (Sailing)

"It's a step in the right direction for Indian women in sailing...after all the support and effort that my parents, brother (Ajay Rau) ,coach Alen Jullie (Seychelles) and fitness trainer Ramji Srinivas have put in...I guess this is only the beginning....” The 2007 YAI woman sailor of the year said with pride.

She also thanked the SDAT( Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu),SAI (Sports Authority of India) and AMM Foundation for their long time support.

To win a medal in Europe is remarkable as it hosts some of the toughest circuits on the tour. For an Indian woman to win medals in sailing was “just a Dream” not so long ago. This experience should help her shape up well for the forth coming National Championships against the men where she finished 3rd overall last year. This is also good preparation for major events like the European and World Championships for which Rohini will be representing India.

This historic feat will do well to inspire women sailing in India at an International and Olympic level. Hopefully the repeated achievements by this young sailing star will finally get the attention she deserves from the Indian selectors and officials to support her and women sailing.

She was presented with a plaque from Slovenian Sailing legend Vasilij Zbogar Olympic Silver (08) & Bronze (04) medalist after achieving this milestone.


Laser radial women













ITA 182954

Elisabetta Macchini, CDV Muggia










AUT 193737

Katharina Roeggla, YCW










IND 185820

Rohini Rau, Royal Madras Yacht Club










SLO 193700

Marusa Krasevac, ŠJK










HUN 193259

Zsodo Juhasz, BYC









Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mumbai International Match Race - 2008

Mumbai International Match Race ‘09 in a nutshell : ROHINI RAU

3 February 2009 No Comment

Sailing started as a leisure activity and soon became an addiction for her. And soon the addiction transformed her life so much that she simply refused to get out of it. Meet Rohini Rau, whose addiction to sailing has fetched her one Asian Championship gold medal, many national titles and also made her the first Indian woman sailor to be ranked in the international chart.

She has the rare distinction of bringing home Tamilnadu’s first gold medal for India in Sailing and along with her sailing partner Pallavi Naik from Goa Yachting Association of being the first girls to win a gold medal for India in Sailing at an International Meet.

Also, she was apart of one of the girl teams in the Mumbai International Match Race ‘09 that concluded last week…and she has sent her detailed report of the entire event; concluded with a report on the ISAF Nations Cup last year - in which their performance got them competing in their first Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA) event.


“I love sailing my Laser Radial… but I guess I love Match racing even more! I had a hard time convincing my Dad to let me spend Christmas and New Years in New York, and miss the Miami OCR to come and take part in the Mumbai International Match Race – 2008 (which got postponed due to the Mumbai terror attacks). But it was well worth it.

I traveled for nearly 21 hours to get to Mumbai on the 20th of January 2009 (New York(JFK) – Dubai – Chennai – Mumbai).

Totally jet lagged I met up with the rest of the team – Pallavi Naik (Goa), Alekhya Sudam (Hyd) and Tulsi Khetwal (Bom) a truly national team…as I am from Chennai.

We were all set to sail the Qualifiers of the Mumbai International Match Race starting on the 23nd of January 2009 at H2O, Chowpatty, Mumbai.

There were a total of 14 teams taking part, including Russian, Finnish and Bahrain Teams. Even though the qualifier was only to choose the Indian teams that would take part in the actual Mumbai International Match Race – 2008.

There were only 2 women teams skippered by Pallavi Naik and Ayesha Lobo. One woman’s team by default would get to participate in the MIMR, to encourage women sailors in our country. That was the plan.

The 14 teams were split into 2 groups of 7. And each group sailed a Round Robin series. The top 3 teams in each group went on to sail another round robin to decide the final 4 who would sail the Final and petit final.

In our group we had 2 time World Champion – Farokh Tarapore, Nithin Mongia, Peter Kochnev (RUS), Azhar Sheik, Ayesha Lobo and Shahid Basheer.

It was a tough group, and we weren’t expecting very much. But much to our delight we managed 3 wins out of 6. After narrowly missing out on being the 3rd team in our group after losing to Peter Kochnev (RUS).

This meant we had a sail off with the team that finished 4th in the other group. This happened to be against the 300+ kg Finnish team Lauri Kaapa, who had requested for a substitute as one of his team members was down with a fever.

In my opinion they should have been sailing with 3 people as they weighed nearly 100 kgs more than we did!

As luck would have it, the wind picked up to about 15- 20 knots that afternoon, but due to damage we sailed the race without the spinnaker. We didn’t give up till the end. It was a tough race. We lost to the Finnish team, but still managed an eighth position overall.

We were thrilled! We not only beat our only female competitor, we beat the other Indian men’s teams qualified to sail the MIMR in our own right. Not just because we were women!”

Results of the Qualifier

1. Mahesh Ramachandran
2. Farokh Tarapore
3. Nithin Mongia
4. Aashim Mongia
5. Peter Kochnev -RUS
6. Ebrahim -BAH
7. Lauri Kaapa -FIN
8. Pallavi Naik (W)
9. M Nadar
10. Shahed Bhasheer
11. T. Helegaonkar
12. Azhar Shaik
13. Mahji
14. Ayesha Lobo (W)


“This Grade 2 event attracted 5 International teams – 2 from Russia, 2 from Finland and 1 from Bahrain.

With a strong Indian contingent of 6 men’s teams and 1 women’s team, the MIMR – 2008 kicked off on the 25th of January 2009 beginning with a huge turn out at the opening ceremony at H2O.

Being the only women’s team in the MIMR had some benefits, but also had its disadvantages. We were one of the lightest teams in the event, even though we had an extra crew member Taramati Matiwade. We were also the team with the least experience.

With 5 women on board, things could get a little difficult. There was a lot of confusion on board, but we sailed to the best of our ability. It was a little disheartening to find that we couldn’t win a single race. Due to various reasons, the wind gods weren’t very kind to us, blowing at 15 – 20 knots.

It was a test of stamina and grit as on the second day of racing we had to sail 6 races back to back. I think it took a toll on all of us. Pallavi had hurt her knee, the rest of us were bruised and quite tired.

All in all, the experience made us realize that we had to work and practice harder to be more competitive in the breeze.

These were tough conditions for the other teams too, ISAF world ranked 15 Arbuzov from Russian who had also won the MIMR -2007, did not have it easy. After losing to Lauri Kaapa (FIN), Farokh Tarapore and Nithin Mongia (IND) .I guess the Match Racing Association of India (MRAI) have been doing something right.

Farokh was glad that he had given Arbuzov a hard time, definitely one of his highlights in this event.

The 12 teams had to sail a complete round robin to determine the top 6 teams who would sail the semi – finals. But it was the Indian star Nitin Mongia who ruled the first day with 100% wins.

By the second day the top 6 teams were chosen to sail the semi final :-

1. Arbuzov
2. Olli Pekka
3. Farokh Tarapore
4. Mahesh Ramachandran
5. Nithin Mongia
6. Lauri Kaapa

Umpire for a day

I had the rare distinction of becoming part of the Jury for the semi – final. I was an umpire for the day with International Jury Piero Occheto (ITA). It was an amazing experience umpiring a Grade 2 semi-final.

I was the yellow boat for all the races, which meant I had to report whatever the yellow boat did during the race, and thus help in making decisions on penalties, etc.

All the time that I had been a mere spectator on Ajay Balram’s (IU) umpire boat finally paid off, as I was familiar with the terms used.

Aware of the responsibility I had to make the right calls, I did whatever I could to the best of my ability. Pierro acknowledged my contribution by saying I would make a good IU (International Umpire) one day.

The match with Farokh and Nithin was indeed an exciting match; there were 2 penalties, one for each boat during the pre –start, that cancelled each other out. But in the end Nithin Mongia and Laura Kaapa (FIN) were knocked out.

The Final

Now on Day 3 it was time for the Final and petit – final. After a long wait on shore, the wind gods, in all its fervor, made the day’s racing a true challenge.

Much to our disappointment, the Indians were out of the Final. Which left the Russian and the Finn’s to fight for the title.

I must admit it was a treat for every spectator who bothered to come out on a hot Saturday afternoon to witness some good Match Racing.

World Champion Farokh Tarapore and the Asian Games silver medalist R. Mahesh raced in the petit – final for 3rd place. The team that scored 2 points won; the same with the Final between Arbuzov (RUS), who was defending his title, and Olli Pekka from Finland.

Both had one win each, which meant each team, had to sail another race, to determine the final positions. This was as exciting as it could get. The T-20 of sailing, sitting on the umpire’s boat, I had the front row seat.

Places changed, no one knew who was going to win until the last moment. There was a fierce tacking match with the 30 kg lighter Farokh Tarapore and R. Mahesh. With 15 – 20 knot breezes, Farokh went on to prove that it is pure technique and skill that wins you matches. Farokh beat Mahesh, in an epic race to finish 3rd overall.

The Final was just as exciting, Olli Pekka was ahead of Arbuzov after the first leg, but ended up having a luffing match near the bottom mark. This cost the Finnish team a great deal, as they cork – screwed dangerously with the spinnaker, nearly losing control.. The bow – man Jonas definitely deserves a special mention, as he handles the entire fore deck single handedly. But even the experience of America’s Cup helm (ITA) Jes Grahm Hansen on board couldn’t help them.

The Russian team, skippered by Arbuzov, showed us why he was ranked 15 in the world, by clinching the title for the 2nd time.

The Mumbai International Match Race – 2008, organized by the Match Racing Association of India was a well run event, in spite of all the problems it faced. Right from the Mumbai Terror attacks, to the recession – leading to lack of sponsorship. A big thank you to West Coast Marine and the Indian Navy and H2O who made this event possible.”

For further details do refer the MRAI website