Champions Boat League: Tropical Titans win the battle of the backwaters

Chitra Narayanan Kollam | Updated on November 24, 2019

Winners row away with Rs 1.31 crore in the inaugural edition of the Rs 6 crore prize money Champions Boat League

An exhilarating photo finish between the top three snakeboat teams marked the grand finale of the first edition of the Rs 6 crore prize money-Champions Boat League in Kerala.

Tropical Titans rowed past Raging Rowers by just 11 milliseconds while the difference between the runner up and the third placed team, Mighty Oars, was just 13 milliseconds.

Tropical Titans crested the finishing post in a time of 4: 33:69, Raging Rowers clocked 4:33:80 and Mighty Oars 4:33:93. The over three month long Champions Boat League conceived and organized by Kerala Tourism to promote viewership of snakeboat races could not have asked for a better climax than this neck and neck race.

Atmosphere at the boat race

Cheered by local spectators and tourists who had lined up on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake at Kollam and spurred by the voluble and very theatrical live Malayalam commentary over the public address, it was a great display of sinew and skill by the oarsmen on the snakeboats. Sporting psychedelic coloured outfits the rowers lent a splash of colour to the picturesque backdrop of coconut palms and azure blue skies – but it was the yellow T-shirts of Tropical Titans that dominated the league throughout. They topped the league with 173 points finally. In the final moments the pink clad burly cops from Kerala Police who made up the Raging Rowers team did put up a great fight.

In terms of deciding the overall winners, the final race was actually of only academic interest as Tropical Titans had massed up an unassailable lead on the points table, though by winning here at Kollam they stood a chance of increasing their prize money. In the event, they rowed away home with a total of Rs 1.31 crore.


The format of the league was such that each of the nine teams got Rs 4 lakh for participating in a race, top three teams in each race earned an additional Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh. Organised across 11 venues in five districts of the state, the nine teams clashed over 12 races. Potentially the least a team could make was Rs 48 lakh. Since snakeboat racing is an expensive affair, and it costs the teams a big amount to participate, the state government decided to underwrite expenses.

Second placed Raging Rowers earned Rs 82 lakh, while third placed Mighty Oars got Rs 69 lakh. While the winners were a foregone conclusion, there was intense interest on who would take third spot as coming into the finals Mighty Oars and Coast Dominators were tied at 69 points. The Oars edged ahead by just one point. Coast Dominators belionging to the very popular Chambakulam chundan however could take consolation in the fact that they were the only other team to have won a race from the Tropical Titans beating them in the Kochi leg.

For Nadubhagom Chundan, the kara or village that was represented by Tropical Titans, it was an emotional moment to collect the trophy. Narayana Kutty, the captain of the team, said hard work and practice paid off as well as the strategy of ensuring all the players were below 25 years of age and weighed under 75kgs. “We planned for over ten months, practiced for three months putting in 35 to 40 sessions before the Nehru Trophy and executed our strategy perfectly,” he said.

CBL 2020 plans

Next year’s edition promises to be bigger and better with the two Kerala ministers present at the final race announcing mega plans for CBL 2020.

Next year the league will be pan Kerala and include the Malabar districts as well, said Finance minister TM Thomas Isaac. Tourism minister Kadakampally Suredran hinted there could be stronger sponsorships from corporate houses next year as well. “The CBL has lent a brand value to boat races and I am sure will evolve into a strong format in future editions,” he said. The idea is to make into an IPL style league owned by franchises.

With an estimated 22 lakh viewers watching the races across the five district, and the event broadcast live over several channels, the state government is hopeful of making the business of boat racing more lucrative for the snakeboat owners.

Rulers of the Backwaters - Final Tally

Team/ Local Name/ Boat ClubPoints
Tropical Titans  /Nadubhagom/ PBC173
Raging Rowers /Karichal /Police Boat Club86
Mighty Oars /Devas/ NCDC76
Coast Dominators Chambakulam/ UBC75
Backwater Knights/ Gabriel/ Village Boat Club60
Pride Chasers/  Veyapuram /Vembanad Boat Club50
Backwater Warriors /Payippadan/ Town BC37
Thunder Oars/ Mahadevikattil Thekkathil/ KBC/ SFBC28
Backwater Ninjas/ St George/  Brothers Boat club26
Published on November 24, 2019

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