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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Champions Boat League to get under way at Marine Drive in Kochi on September 16

The third edition of the Champions Boat League (CBL) being organised by the State Tourism department will get under way at Marine Drive on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas will inaugurate the event and Industries Minister P. Rajeeve will preside.

Addressing a press conference at the District Collectorate on Friday, organising committee chairman T.J. Vinod, MLA, said nine chundan vallams (snakeboats) that finished in the first nine positions in the recently held Nehru Trophy boat race in Alappuzha would take part in the race. Sixteen iruttukuthy vallams, categorised into A and B categories, will participate in the local race.

While chundan vallams are rowed by 75 or more people, iruttukuthy vallams are relatively smaller and rowed by 40 or more people. “The race will be a spectacle to behold and we have reached an understanding with hotels in the city to bring tourists to watch the event. The organising committee has managed to make all arrangements successfully despite having had only 10 days after the decision to conduct the inaugural event in Kochi was taken,” said Mr. Vinod.

It is a 1-km-long race, and the track is 50 metres wide. The racing area has been dredged with the help of the Irrigation department to increase the depth, adequate for massive boats with about 100 rowers each.

Mr. Vinod said that unlike in the past the dredged sand had been deposited away from the racing track using a barge, to avoid boats getting stuck in the sand. Last time, the dredged sand deposited off the track got washed into the track, trapping a boat.

The event launched in 2019 had got disrupted in the next two years owing to the pandemic before resuming last year. “Despite financial constraints, the State government allocated ₹12 crore for the CBL. This is perhaps the only boat race that is being organised by a government with the biggest cash prize of ₹5.95 crore. We are on course to develop the race into a multi-crore product, showcasing Kerala along the lines of the Indian Premier League,” said R.K. Kurup, a member of the organising committee.

Cultural events, including flash mobs by members of tourism clubs in educational institutions, performance of the Navy band and exercise by the India Navy, will mark the event.

The CBL will be staged in various waterways in Thrissur, Kottayam, and Alappuzha, before concluding in Kollam on December 9.

District Collector N.S.K. Umesh, who is also the organising committee convener, and former MLA K.K. Shaju were present.

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