'Sailing, football and chess complement eachother' Dhanika sails to historic success | Sunday Observer

'Sailing, football and chess complement eachother' Dhanika sails to historic success

Young Dhanika Nanayakkara of S.Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia sailed his way to success and Sri Lankan records, by winning the Bronze Medal position at the International Optimist Dinghy Associations’s (IODA) competition held in Mussanah in the Sultanate of Oman. Thus, Dhanika won for himself the dual distinction of being the first Sri Lankan sailor in the Optimist category to win an international award while being the first Thomian to win an international award for sailing in the Optimist category. He was also ranked first in the Sri Lankan Team on the points system. His younger brother Tharen, also a Thomian was ranked second in the Sri Lankan team.

This was a highly competitive event with a Gold and Silver Fleet and the Sri Lankan team competed in the Silver Fleet at IODA. In this competitive environment all sailors had to deal with continuously changing wind shifts and wave changes, amongst other factors.

The Sri Lankan team of sailors competed as individuals, there was also team racing for the top 16 qualified teams. The sailors were judged on a point system and the overall performance was based on points scored from 12 races, with 2 discards. Dhanika actually tied for the second place with a competitor from the UAE, but due to the point system was ranked third. Dhanika himself initially thought that he had ranked fourth and therefore was delighted to find himself ranked third.

In fact, all four Nanayakkara rothers, Niveyn, Dhanika ,Tharen and Nikhil are students of the College by the Sea ,S. Thomas’ College and all four represent the College at sailing. Niveyn, the eldest has now graduated to the Laser category while Dhanika and his younger twin brothers Tharen and Nikhil compete alongside in the Optimist category.

The National Team for the 2019 IODA competition was selected by the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka, the national organisation for Sailing in Sri Lanka, which supported and assisted the team in every possible way. Mr. Kenny, President of the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka was present at this major event.

Dhanika gratefully acknowledged their support as well as the invaluable service rendered to the team by the Sri Lanka Navy.

The Sri Lankan team comprised fiveThomians, Dhanika Nanayakkara, Shashenka Fernando,Enalka de Silva and Dhanika’s younger twin brothers Tharen and Nikhil, two Royalists and three students of Ladies’ College, Colombo.

Dhanika was introduced to sailing by close friend Shashenka Fernando, Captain, STC Optimist team, and soon sailing became his passion.Having joined the Sailing Club of S. Thomas,’ Dhanika started practising with his team on the Bolgoda Lake facilitated by the Ceylon Motor Yacht Club.

Practising is tough. On Fridays Dhanika puts in three hours on the water and on Saturdays six hours with morning and afternoon sessions.

When in Grade seven Dhanika was selected for the S. Thomas’ College sailing team and represented the College at the 2017 Royal –Thomian Regatta in the Optimist category.Since then he has participated in many local events and several international events including IODA 2017 in Hongkong, IODA Myanmar in 2018 and the recently concluded Abu Dhabi International Sailing Regatta under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Schools Yachting Association.

Dhanika‘s awards are impressive. He won the Bronze position at IODA 2019, his first international award. Locally, he has bagged the Optimist National Champion Title in 2018, the Gold and Silver medals at the 2018 and 2019 Royal-Thomian Regattas and the Gold medals at the 2018 and 2019 Trinco Blu Sailing Competition.

Dhanika won his College colours in 2018 and National Colours in 2017, Niveyn his College Colours in 2017 and National Colours in 2018, Tharen was one of the youngest to receive College colours in 2018 and both Nikhil and Tharen received their National colours this year for the IODA 2019, respectively.

Dhanika says he owes much to the late Jeremy Bolling who was one of his first coaches. He also is deeply grateful to current National Coach (Optimist) W.P.K.Janaka for all his guidance and support.He is also much obliged to current S. Thomas’ College coach Ms. Nadine de Rosayro.

In addition to sailing Dhanika plays football and chess. According to him all three sports complement each other. “Sailing has built my leadership qualities, self confidence and has taught me to think on my feet, like making quick changes to the sail when winds change. Football has strengthened my physical capacity, and chess my concentration, and strategic tactical thinking to make intelligent moves.”

Dhanika’s leadership qualities are indated by the fact that he is a Middle School Prefect and Vice Captain of the STC Optimist team.

Dhanika enjoys movies but really has not much time for pastimes as he has to catch up on missed school work. So, when not skimming the waves, he is glued to his books.

Coach and mentor Janaka, 1998 Asian Games Bronze medalist, had this to say. “In a short time he has achieved much. He is keen and able and has the ability to go far in his sailing career”.

Dhanika is a great role model for teens with his balancing of studies and sports. With all the kudos he has earned, he remains a very down to earth boy. Success has not gone to his head.

Our good wishes go with you Dhanika, for your future success.