The annual Nehru Trophy boat race (NTBR), which had not been held for the past two years due to COVID-19 outbreak, was won for the third time in a row by the Pallathuruthy Boat Club here on Sunday.
The winning snake boat, named ‘Mahadevikad Kattil Thekkethil Chundan’, crossed the finishing line in 4 minutes and 30 seconds, closely followed by the ‘Nadubhagam Chundan’ paddled by the NCDC Boat Club.
With the photo-finish win, the Pallathuruthy Boat Club topped the first round of the second edition of the Champions Boat League (CBL-2), an official Kerala Tourism release said.
The CBL is modelled on the Indian Premier League in cricket.
The CBL name of the winning club is Tropical Titans, who clocked 4.30.77 minutes to cover the distance of 1,050 metres, while the runners-up — Mighty Oars — took 4.31.57 to cover the same distance, the release said.
“Being organised by Kerala Tourism, the CBL, with nine snake boat teams, features 12 rounds of races slated across consecutive Saturdays till November 26. Next weekend will see an Onam-time break, following which the rounds from the second will resume on September 17,” it said.
Thousands of spectators, from across the state, flocked to the venue since morning to grab the best spots to watch the sporting event held at the Punnamada Lake here.
People waited on houseboats and even atop houses near the river banks for the race since morning.
Named after the first Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, the 68th edition of the boat race was inaugurated by Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal.
In a speech at the event, Balagopal said, according to the release, that the government was planning to host a new boat race for upstate Malabar, with Chaliyar as the focal river running along Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
State Tourism Minister P A Mohammed Riyas, who also addressed the festive gathering, was of the view that the return of the NTBR and CBL will boost tourism in the state.
Snakeboats or ‘Chundans’ were flagged off by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lt Governor Admiral D K Joshi, who was also the chief guest of the event.
The spectators also included foreign nationals who were present there for a glimpse of the event which is considered one of the biggest water-sport events in the country.
The boat race is named after Nehru to commemorate his visit to Kuttanad in the year 1952, during his first tour of Kerala after independence.
He was escorted by the huge snake-boats, giving him a roaring reception on his way to Alappuzha from Kottayam then.
Impressed by the reception and the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat, Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner. This trophy was later christened the ‘Nehru Trophy’.
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