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"It's like hanging out of a bus": Tokyo-bound KC Ganapathy underlines major challenges of sailing

·3-min read
India are sending four sailors across three events at the Tokyo Olympics. Image courtesy: SAI
India are sending four sailors across three events at the Tokyo Olympics. Image courtesy: SAI

The tides and strong wind aside, every boat comes with its major set of challenges, in sailing. And Tokyo bound KC Ganapathy, who will compete with his crew member Varun Thakkar in the 49er category, underlined the major challenge of sailing in the class.

In this class, the crew members on board, have their own trapeze (for a sailor's harness). Both the members have extremely crucial tasks as one steers the boat tactically while the other controls the sail as per the wind or movement.

The class was basically named after the length of its hull which is 4.99 metres.

The Chennai-based sailor took the example of a human being hanging out of the bus to reflect on the challenges he faces while sailing in the windy conditions.

"The 49er is a twin trapeze boat. Agility and strength is really important because its like hanging out of a bus. But the only difference is the bus is like shaking and potholes are around, in the boat, the waves will shake like that. It is a major challenge for the people who are beginning," Ganapathy told Yahoo in an exclusive interview.

"It is (49er) is also the fastest boat in the Olympics, so your decision making has to be really quick, so a lot of anticipation is involved," he added.

The men's 49er category was introduced at the Sydney 2000 Games while the women's event was introduced at the 2016 Rio Games.

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But, the challenges are not much of a bother for Ganapathy these days, as he has been sailing for over two decades now. Interestingly, his first encounter to sailing came when he was nearly seven, and since then he is drawn to the discipline and continues to grow through the ranks.

"My classmate's dad, he took 10 of us, around 2002 (for sailing). I loved it from the first day, it was amazing, the sea, going on a boat, it was a phenomenal challenge," the 26-year-old recalled.

"A 7-year-old taking the boat, it's a lot of fun, and I really loved it. Varun (Thakkar's) dad owns a shipping company. He used to be in the sailing class and introduced him to sailing," he added.

It is now upon him to put his best foot forward at his maiden Olympic appearance in Tokyo. Although, considering that it will be his first appearance at the quadrennial showpiece event, the platform can act as a bubble breaker to help him gain the much needed experience against the top sailors.

Ganapathy and his crew member Varun Thakkar have decided to head to Portugal to prepare for the Games. He is also contended to do his research about the weather and conditions of the Enoshima Yacht Harbour — the venue for sailing events ahead of the marquee event.

"Sadly all the teams which are going to be there have done a lot of sailing in Enoshima but we haven't done anything. Look at all the weather data and charts, we will ask people around, but we have done quite a bit of sailing so and been around. So I think we can adapt to the situation," Ganapathy said.

It will be a historic first for the Indian sailing contingent at Tokyo 2020 as four sailors have qualified across three categories in the discipline.

The Indian fleet of boats at Tokyo 2020 will see Nethra Kumanan compete in the Laser Radial class, Vishnu Saravanan in the Laser Standard while the duo of Ganapathy and Thakkar will be in action in the 49er.


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