Thiruvananthapuram: Giving a new impetus to Kerala’s famed boat races, the State Government is all set to launch a mammoth backwater event under a league format that spans nearly three months during the monsoon, starting this year.
The Champions’ Boat League (CBL) has been conceived in the IPL format with the intention of making the celebratory races a world-class experience for tourists and creating an international sporting atmosphere for the participant clubs and their oarsmen, top officials said here the other day.
The CBL will start on August 10 with the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alappuzha and end with the President’s Trophy Boat Race in Kollam on the State’s formation day (November 1), holding 12 races during the intervening weekends.
All races will be held in the afternoons: between 2.30 pm and 5 pm. The CBL winner will get a cash prize of Rs. 25 lakh, while those finishing second and third receive Rs. 15 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh respectively.
Into its run-up, the Department of Tourism is looking for entities that have expertise in managing, executing and promoting CBL in the next five years. Authorities have floated a request for proposal that aims to make the selections through bidding. Through the CBL featuring nine teams, the government aims to conduct the snake-boat races more professionally, according to Kadakampally Surendran, State Tourism Minister. “We want CBL to be a world-class tourism product capable of attracting thousands of tourists,” he said. “Further, the league championship helps boat clubs financially. The players become more skilled. That will inspire a whole new generation of them.”
“The monsoon (June to September) has its unique charm. That is not just owing to the beauty of the rains, but the activities around it. Boat race is among the tradition,” pointed out Surendran.
Kerala has 14 districts out of which six will hold CBL races this year. Overall, the league will conduct 12 boat races in the districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram. The 1952-incepted Nehru Trophy will be the qualifying boat race for the selection of the top teams for the CBL. That will be held on the sprawling Punnamada Lake of Alappuzha on August 10 (typically the second Saturday of that monsoon month).