Hyderabad: All is set for the 11th Monsoon Regatta National Championship beginning on Tuesday with a record 131 young sailors battling it out for top honours.

The cream of the country’s under 16 sailors are at The Yacht Club of Hyderabad practicing at the Hussain Sagar for over a week now. Local girls Preethi Kongara, currently ranked No. 3 in India will be Telangana’s top challenger with Lakshmi Nookarathnam, India No.4 and Telangana No.2 also in top form.

Preethi and Lakshmi finished top two in Telangana in the recently concluded State Championships and it is their last year in the under 16 category.

Top seeds at the Monsoon Regatta Uma Chauhan and Rithika Dangi seeded No.1 and 2 amongst girls are here from National Sailing School Bhopal to try and clinch podium positions and retain their ranking.

Amongst boys defending champion Chunnu Kumar from the Army Boys Sports School, Bangalore, along with his compatriot Vijay Kumar are ranked No.1 and 2. Vijay won the last Nationals at Chennai and started his career at The Yacht Club of Hyderabad before joining the Army Sailing School.

From the Navy Boys Sports School there is Sachin Bethmalla who missed the podium at the Marve Nationals and is here with his team most of whom started their careers at Hyderabad under the tutelage of Suheim Sheikh.

The winds are expected to be mild during the first two days getting to Monsoon strength from Thursday onwards. “We are proud to once again host the 11th Monsoon Regatta and we welcome for the first time an international jury chaired by Australia’s Mark Pryke, a renowned international judge. The competition is going to be extremely gruelling and may the best sailor win,” said Lt Gen. KS Rao, president of the Telangana Sailing Association.

“We have prepared the local sailors at the Yacht Club extensively for the Monsoon Regatta and look forward to a few good medals. The number going up to 131 sailors  is a national record and we hope to continue on this growth spiral,” said Suheim Sheikh, president and coach at the Yacht Club of Hyderabad.

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