The National Inland Enterprise Championship (NIEC) is the most popular yachting event in India, held on the waters of the Khadakwasla Reservoir at Pune, Maharashtra. The NIEC marks the beginning of monsoon sailing events in the country. Peacock Bay is situated on the North-East of the Khadakwasla Lake. It is the nerve centre of all waterman ship training. The facilities at the picturesque Bay to train the cadets include an array of seamanship training equipments, sailing boats of all classes, speed boats, wind surfers, water skis, whalers, dinghies and cutters. Peacock Bay derives its name from the abundance of peacocks found in the area.
The event is hosted by the National Defence Academy Sailing Club each year in the first week of June. The National Defence Academy (NDA) plays a stellar role in promoting sailing by making the boats available for India’s top sailors to race against each other. The annual event as per the present format was initiated in the time of RP Sawhney, former Commandant of NDA and a keen sailor in 1982. The event is sailed in a class of racing boats called the Enterprise Class. The Enterprise is a two-man boat designed and is distinctive with its blue sails.
The NIEC has seen the best known names of Indian yachting compete in the waters of the Kharakwasla Reservoir – the Mongia brothers, Brig S Pillai, Capt Homi Motivala, Farokh Tarapore. Some of the Clubs who send in their sailors are the Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC), Colaba Sailing Club (CSC), Army Yachting Node (AYN) , Naval Sailing Club (NSC) , Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA), and more from all over India.
This year it kicked off on Friday the 3rd of June. Eleven teams were seeded into the gold fleet while the other 70 battled for the remaining 37 spots. The gold fleet was particularly competitive with general recalls and black flags flying through a majority of the races. Asian Games silver medalist Trunal Helegaonkar and his dependable crew, Suraj Singh took the top spot; a jump of 3 places from their 4th position last year. Last year’s winners, Mehul Ashar and Saif Shaikh of Mumbai Yacht Club came in a close second, followed by Prasad Shelar & Varun Raj, who’d held the same position at last year’s event. Last year’s second placed Ayaz Shaikh finished 4th this year.
Some of the other awards that were handed out were:
- Inland Water Trophy: Awarded to Trunal Helegaonkar / Suraj Singh for finishing first with 12 points from 5 races.
- Junior Shield : Awarded to Cadet R Yadav / Cadet Mohit Lal (NDA Sailing Club)
- Youngest Helmsman Trophy : Awarded to Anshuman Acharya for helming at the age of 11 years
- Best Lady Helmsman: Awarded to the charismatic Hema Mehta for the being the finest lady helm.
The mood in the evening was much lighter as compared to during the day. The sailors indulged in football and the regatta party held later was very entertaining. The dance floor was perennially active with the sailors showing off their dancing skills. The excellent food, the electric atmosphere, the sailing all combined to give a successful event that will be remembered by all for the years to come.
Article compiled by Vignesh Iyer