Boys Who Quit School to Pursue Sailing, Win Asian Games Bronze

Varun Ashok Thakkar and KC Ganapathy were supported by their parents in making the life-changing decision.

Asian Games
2 min read
Ganapathy (L) Thakkar (R) pose for a photo after clinching bronze at the Asiad.

Not long after giving up text books, Varun Ashok Thakkar and KC Ganapathy are happily writing their own scripts– in water – and feel the plunge into sailing was a risk worth taking.

They don't regret dropping out of full time school, and the bronze medal at the ongoing Asian Games vindicates their decision as well as the feeling.

Once fierce rivals, Thakkar and Ganapathy on Friday, 31 August joined forces to clinch a bronze medal in 49er event after finishing third with 43 net points.

They were disqualified in the penultimate race (14th) but held their nerves to win the final race.

(For more news and updates from the Asian Games, click here.)

Ganapathy, who was smiling ear to ear, gushed even as Thakkar, who was at the helm position in the race, had his emotions under control.

"We used to race against each other in our junior days. It's great to win this medal with this guy. We were rivals but became a team in 2011," said Thakkar, who required a surgery to heal a dislocated shoulder a year from the Games, said.

It’s been a long time we have stuck together. I was in class IX when I decided to quit school and learn through an open education system.
KC Ganapathy

But could they not pursue academics and sports together? “I was allowed to take just 10 days leave in a year at my school (The School, KFI). With that, it was not possible to pursue sailing. It’s not easy. Sailing is full time job,” said Ganapathy.

Since 2011, they practised together in Chennai six days a week, and were supported by their parents in making the life-changing decision.

"My dad was very supportive. Since he himself had done a bit of sailing, he understood what I wanted," said Thakkar, whose father Ashok is president of the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association.

Ashok said he it was not difficult to accept his son's choice.

He could always go back to academics but he would not have got his age back, those years back. And see they have the result today.
Ashok Thakkar

Ganapathy has enrolled himself at an open school while Thakkar is a B.Com student in Wales.

Varsha Gautham, who won a silver in women's 49er FX event with Sweta Shervegar, said it's easy to sail than study.

"It's much better than text books. Sailing is relaxing. It's fun out there in the water. It may look dangerous to a layman but it is really fun. More people should join sailing," she said.

Talking about the race on Friday, Thakkar said, "It was choppy, there were waves but there was right trend to the waves."

Ganapathy was livid with the judges who disqualified them after protests from winners Japan.

"There was no incident (obstruction in way). They cheated. We could have won gold if it was not for disqualification. We gave everything in the final race," he said.

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