Two talented sailors from Telangana, Alekhya Coondoo and Pilli Akhil, have earned the opportunity to represent India at the prestigious 420 World Sailing Championship in Alicante, Spain. Alekhya, a 12th-grade science student from HPS Ramanthapur, and Akhil, an open school student in the 11th standard from Khammam, will be representing the Secunderabad Sailing Club. The championship is scheduled to take place from 21st to 29th July, and the team will depart for Spain on 17th July from Hyderabad.
The parents of Alekhya, Siddarth Coondoo and Pallavi, shared their joy during a press conference held at the Secunderabad Club Youth Regatta. They informed the media that their daughter and Akhil have been sailing together for over a year and have participated in three competitions, which have led them to qualify as representatives for India. This achievement is significant, as they are the only team from India to participate in this tournament after a four-year hiatus. They will compete against 126 accomplished sailors from around the world.
The 420 World Championships are internationally recognized sailing regattas organized by the International Sailing Federation and the International 420 Class Association. These annual events, dating back to 1973, aim to promote 420 dinghy sailing worldwide. The championships feature high-quality racing, provide an ideal platform for competitors to foster friendships, and promote goodwill among all participants.
Alekhya and Akhil secured their qualification for their debut international event by winning three National Ranking Events held in Mysore, Mumbai (Marve), and Shillong. Their coaches, Arjun Pradeepak and Sanjeev Chauhan, expressed confidence in the young sailors, noting that they will face tough competition from strong contenders such as Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Italy, and Switzerland.
Prior to their international debut, Alekhya and Akhil will undergo a week of training in Spain under the guidance of Jose Ruiz Sanchez, a professional sailor and former 420 World Champion. They will also receive coaching from Ryan Fernando, an award-winning celebrity nutritionist and co-founder of Qua Nutrition, who is known for his work with athletes like Virat Kohli. Additionally, a fitness coach named Sailo is assisting them in their preparation.
HPS Ramanthapur, through its alumni network, has raised seven lakh rupees to support Alekhya, reflecting their pride and desire to encourage her in the sport. Dr. S. Narasimha Reddy, the Principal of HPS Ramanthapur, expressed his delight and described Alekhya as a multi-talented student who excels academically while balancing her education and sports commitments. He wished her success in the upcoming tournament.
Arjun Pradipak, one of the coaches, mentioned that both sailors have undergone rigorous training to excel in challenging competitions. They are well-prepared to sail in various conditions.
The 420 class is highly regarded in the sailing community and is just one step below the Olympic Class 470. It is a popular youth race, and the 420 dinghy holds the status of a World Sailing International Class. With over 56,000 boats built worldwide, the 420 class is sailed at various levels, from school and club events to national and international competitions. Recognized by World Sailing, the name "420" refers to the boat's length of 420 centimeters.
Alekhya, who aspires to pursue a career in medicine and is currently preparing for the NEET exam, manages to excel academically while actively participating in extracurricular activities such as being the literary captain and lead guitarist of her school band. Despite her busy schedule, which includes eight-hour school days and three-hour evening NEET classes, she dedicates time to pursue her passion for sailing.
Akhil, a student of Boys Sports Company specializing in sailing, is combining his education and sports training at the Boys Sports Company of MEG Centre in Bangalore. Coming from a humble background and belonging to the Mala Scheduled Caste, Akhil has received support from the Telangana State Sports Academy and the Trishna Sailing Club in Mysore. His achievements as a sailor led to his selection by the Army Sports School, and he aspires to serve his country in the army. With his talent, sincerity, and hard work, Alekhya and others are supporting him in realizing his dream of participating in this world championship.