Racy Start to Kerala’s CHAMPIONS Boat League
Billed as a game-changing initiative modelled on the Indian Premier League, the Champions Boat League (CBL), which seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, by commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit, was inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister, in the presence of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
Being organised by Kerala Tourism, the CBL, modelled on the Indian Premier League, features 12 rounds of races involving nine teams
Being organised by Kerala Tourism, the CBL, with nine teams, features 12 rounds of races slated across Saturdays till November 23.
Pallathuruthi Boat Club, Alappuzha won the 67th Nehru Trophy Boat Race – which marked the beginning of the CBL – and topped the first round of the CBL, as the pioneering three-month sporting event got off to a racy start on the sprawling Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha.
The winner, whose CBL name is Tropical Titans, earned nine points, clocking 4.25.83 minutes to cover the distance of 1050 metres. Tropical Titans were followed by Coast Dominators (United Boat Club, Kainakary: 4.28.40) and Raging Rowers (Police Boat Club) 4.29.84, securing eight and seven points, respectively.
Mighty Oars (NCDC, Kumarakom) finished fourth with 4:30:28, having made it to the final CBL heats of the inaugural round.
The five other CBL teams are Backwater Warriors (Kumarakom Town Boat Club), Punnamada Boat Club, Backwater Knights (Village Boat Club), Pride Chasers (Vembanad Boat Club) and Thunder Oars (KBC/SFBC).
The next leg of the CBL was held at Thazhathangadi near Kottayam on September 7. Earlier, the CBL’s inauguration was marked by water adventure sports like jet ski, flyboard and paragliding. Select 10 TV channels beamed the heats live for an hour from 4 pm.
The crowds on the banks of the sprawling Punnamada lake cheered in frenzy as Sachin Tendulkar was invited to speak at the inauguration of the Champions Boat League held alongside the historical Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
“Whichever part of the world you go, if you speak about boat race, the first name you hear is always Kerala,” Sachin said, beginning his speech.
To the famed Mumbaikar, CBL marks the turn of a new leaf in the history of Kerala’s boat races. “I have led teams where the players’ number totals 16, while it is around 100 in a boat race! That requires tremendous understanding between the members and skills of coordination from the part of the captain. It is more so considering that most of the rowers aren’t exactly trained athletes. It’s their passion that makes them fit to be competing here,” Sachin said.
Hailing the gender equality in the boat races, Tendulkar said, “I see a lot of women rowing the boats here. It’s very encouraging. Women are not just to manage kitchen. A healthy woman at home means a healthy family. That happens only when you venture out of your home and bond well with the public at large.”
Tendulkar noted that the “love and affection” from the people of Kerala has always had a distinct appeal whenever he visited the State during his cricketing days or after. “Kerala is just back on its seat after the monsoon flood. My prayers are with all the families who lost their dear ones in the tragedy,” Sachin said.