Tropical Titans (Pallathuruthy Boat Club) rowed away with riches in Kerala’s IPL-style Champions Boat League despite being pipped in the final race by Mighty Oars (NCDC, Nadubhagam).
Titan’s strong showing in the earlier races put it on top of the points tally, helping it win the comeback edition of the tournament that was launched by Kerala Tourism with much hype in 2019, but ebbed during the two pandemic years.
A sizeable crowd turned up at the scenic Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam to watch the President’s Trophy final race, where Titans lagged more than 2.5 seconds behind Mighty Oars. Raging Rowers (Kerala Police Boat Club, Champakulam), finished third in the final race.
The overall league winners Titans took home ₹1.25 crore, runners-up Oars received ₹99 lakh, and Rovers in the third position bagged ₹68 lakh. Each participating team got ₹4 lakh in every league match at CBL.
Close to 100 players on each boat brought down their oars in perfect rhythm, chanting and beating drums, inspiring a frenzy among cheering crowds.
Skill and endurance were put to the test as nine boat clubs raced across 12 different venues, which began with the prestigious Nehru Boat race in Alappuzha, and culminated on the Ashtamudi Lake in downstate Kollam, the scenic entrance to Kerala’s backwaters.
“Among the 82 oarsmen, 13 of them are water sportspersons from Kashmir and 10-odd from other States such as Manipur. Boat racing is a passion. Other sports, say football or cricket, have less than 11 players. Here, close to 100 people come together and work as a team to spring that boat forward. That is not easy and deserves recognition,” said a player from Mighty Oars, the finale race-winning team.
The CBL was ambitiously conceived to boost tourism in the State, and post-pandemic has much riding on it. Kerala’s tourism minister Mohammed Riyas described how such initiatives are helping as Kerala’s tourism grew by 120 per cent amid a 12.07 per cent surge in State GDP in 2021-22, which is above the national average, as cited by the Department of Economics and Statistics.
Tourists from Tamil Nadu numbering over 11 lakh topped the list of visitors to the State (till September 2022), followed by Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi. More than 100 new tourism destinations will be added to the State’s tourism map by 2023, the minister said.
“Soon, eight more districts in the state will have Beypore model sea bridges. Similarly, there will be hiking and trekking facilities in hilly districts,” he said.