Menon riding the waves
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Upcoming sailor Vir Menon first took to the water at the Hesarghatta lake in Bangalore in 2007. While the lake itself has dried up since the time he first set sail on a wooden craft, Menon's own career has gone from strength to strength ever since. The class IX student, won the gold on Sunday in the Laser 4.7 class (U-16) at the 10th KFC International Regatta in Langkawi, Malaysia. The race itself was far from a smooth affair. "During the practice run, windspeed was 25 knots which was perfect for sailing. But the moment the first race started, the wind speed dropped down to 5 knots. It was a struggle to get as much wind as possible. If you dropped behind another boat, you were as good as finished because there was no wind left for you to use," he says.
The medal wasn't the first for Menon. In January 2012, when not yet 14 years, he had won the gold in the NSSR (National Sailing selection regatta) in Mumbai and later represented India at the Laser 4.7 Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he qualified in the Gold Fleet (top 35 sailors), becoming the first Indian to do so. In May last year, he won the silver at the KFC Open Selangor, Malaysia, just a few points behind the current Asian champion. Most recently, Vir won gold at the 20121 Laser Nationals in all three categories – Overall Boys, Under 18 and Under 16.
While Menon still practices in India, for the most part he trains in Hong Kong under coach Marek Jackowski. Menon however isn't satisfied with his achievements in age group competition. Currently sailing the 4.7 class (sail is 4.7 square m) he is setting his sights on advancing to the radial class ( 5.6 sqm sail) and ultimately the standard class (5.6m sail). The standard class is the one Olympic competitions are held in and Menon hopes to compete at that level. "Ultimately though I hope I can take part in the Olympics one day. The 2016 Olympics might be difficult but I hope to compete at the 2020 Olympics," he says.
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