Lt. Col (Retd.) Mohinder Pal Jaggi has rendered yeomen service to institutionalising sailing as a sport in the State, writes A. JOSEPH ANTONY.
KING OF THE WORLD: Mohinder Pal Jaggi lends authority to the chair as Principal Race Officer. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
ON THE placid waters of the Hussain Sagar, Mohinder Pal Jaggi is monarch of all he surveys. The authority he lends to the chair as Principal Race Officer of any sailing regatta he is put in charge of has to be seen to be believed. Not only are the officials on their toes but also competitors will think 10 times before lodging fake protests. That's because Jaggi is a tough nut to crack and a sailor himself, well versed with the tricks of the trade.
His induction into the sport started at the age of 30 as a student of the College of Military Engineering (CME), Pune. Under the tutelage of Major A.A Basith, who had sailed for India at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he picked up the finer points of an activity that has fascinated the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville and Jack London.
Before long, Jaggi graduated from the OK Dinghy and Enterprise to higher classes of craft along with his shift to the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering at Secunderabad. He tested the waters of competition on an OK Dinghy in the Asian Yachting Regatta at the Hussain Sagar in November '76 (where he didn't do too well) and in the International Enterprise championships in Goa.
The EME Sailing Association (EMESA) provided the perfect platform for Jaggi to launch a sailing career. Pairing with Col. (now Major General) I.S Kahai at the Yachting Association of India (YAI) Silver Jubilee championships at Mumbai Jaggi clinched the first place in the wooden mast category of the Enterprise Class.
Over time, as secretary of various sailing bodies, he withdrew from active sailing to conducting events. Three factors influenced the switchover his expertise in measurement of boats, proficiency in race management and his involvement in the manufacture of wooden OK Dinghy craft, which were used in the 1982 Asian Games.
Yachting in his sailing days enjoyed little popularity, both among the public and a cricket-obsessed sports media. When he donned the avatar of organiser, the scene changed dramatically. Not only did the sport attract widespread media attention, sponsors began to back the sport too.
While there had been a smattering of sails on the historic lake before his arrival, Jaggi was largely instrumental in institutionalising the sport. Right from obtaining government land to providing a permanent shelter for the boats, setting up the infrastructure necessary to run the sport was his handiwork. Successors consolidated on the foundation he laid and subsequently a full-fledged club-house took shape.
Conducting the Four Square International Laser Regatta in 1990 and the Asia-Pacific Laser Regatta in 1991 were the most rewarding experiences. Acknowledgement, if not recognition came soon, when he was awarded the Admiral Kohli Trophy by the Yachting Association of India for promoting the sport in the country. With that very purpose in mind, Jaggi had conducted coaching camps for children in the Optimist Class.
For about two decades, Jaggi has been rendering yeoman service to the sport in various capacities - from being the Commodore of the Secunderabad Sailing Club to holding various positions in the Laser Class Association of India (LCAI) and the OK Dinghy Association of India. He is currently the Vice President, Technical, LCAI.
A post-graduate in Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, he's fiercely independent and handpicks the team that should assist him. The successful conduct of every event he has headed is ample evidence that his being choosy with human resources has not been in vain.
In March this year, Jaggi was Principal Race Officer of the OK Dinghy Nationals. After retiring from the army as a Lt. Colonel in 1994, his preoccupation with work at an information technology multinational has prevented him from devoting more time than he would have wanted to his passion.
As much as he welcomes the AP Government's move to clean up Hussain Sagar, so does he look forward to the onset of the monsoon. The gentle patter of rain on the lake's surface usually signals the start of the sailing season. As the waters get choppy, the competition invariably `hots' up.
But like every sailor true to his salt, he relishes the gusts that have the sails billowing. He now lives by the credo of American singer Christopher Cross - It's not far to paradise... if the wind is right, we'll sail away, find serenity, Oh the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see...
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