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No clear favourites in sight

Sports Reporter

Chennai: Fifty seven of the scheduled 60 heats were completed on day one of the UNIFI Capital-ASRA Regatta here on Wednesday, after flags of the 52 schools and five countries participating in the event went up in a colourful opening ceremony. With two more days of heats (in repechage format) remaining before the finals, it's hard to pinpoint who the favourites are, especially since a large chunk of the participants are first-timers at the regatta.

More confident

Even so, some schools appeared in more confident mood than others, notably Karachi's Lyceum School, whose rowers wore t-shirts with the cocky, if somewhat morbid slogan “Our Wake… Your Funeral” emblazoned at the back.

Lyceum's coach Meherdil Babai, who was in Chennai last year for the ARAE Regatta, said that conditions at The Rowing Centre, Koovathur, were less challenging for his team than those encountered back home. “In Karachi, we row in a creek which is quite close to the sea, and tides change direction quite frequently. The water here is quite still in comparison.”

However, Chennai rower Iha Diwan, who won both her single and double sculls heats on Wednesday, said that the waters here presented a stiffer test than those at Madras Boat Club where she does her training.

“The Boat Club waters are quite stagnant. Here, there's a cross breeze, and a little bit of tide, so it's a little more challenging,” said the student of the Academy for Personalised Learning.

Meanwhile, Sajeev de Silva, who captains the St. Thomas College team from Colombo, began his defence of the over-15 single sculls and coxed fours titles which he won last year in Colombo with opening round wins in both disciplines.

The 18-year-old will be part of Sri Lanka's contingent at the Asian Games later this year.

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