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CBL Snake-boats Poised for Thrilling Halfway at Kottappuram this Weekend

In Sports
October 11, 2019

Sturdy paddlers will be keen to add more punch to their sinews and rowing skill as the Champions Boat League (CBL) enters the first half of the 12-race series this weekend at Kottappuram amid increasing competition and heightened popularity. The venue, near the historical port town of Kodungallur, also marks the entry of the pioneering water-race to the northern belt of Kerala.

Even as the stage is set for the ongoing CBL’s sixth leg at the backwaters steeped in the legacy of Muziris dating to 1st century BC, the league has all the trappings of a new-age spirit fuelled by intense efforts by each snake-boat to outsmart others. Photo-finishes have become the norm at the nine-team championships, where the winner in the first four rounds suffered an upset defeat in the fifth at Kochi on October 5. Kottappuram is 40 km south of Thrissur city.

Tropical Titans continue to maintain their top rank at the CBL table with 68 points, but the October 5 final in downtown Ernakulam saw Coast Dominators finishing first along the 960-metre track. Along upscale Marine Drive, Raging Rowers ended third, trailing just 25 microseconds behind Tropical Titans.

At the end of the fifth race of the CBL being organised by Kerala Tourism, Coast Dominators stand second with 37 points, followed by Raging Rowers (34). The Kochi victory apart, Coast Dominators couldn’t claim to be the fastest team of that evening. The coveted ‘Nerolac Excel Fastest Team of the Day’ went to Tropical Titans that had performed best at 3:12.14 to earn five extra points as well.

“The scores, overall, show that you can’t predict for sure the winner at the next round in Kottappuram. There is no definite trend now,” notes a top official of Kerala Tourism. “The third race at Karuvatta (in Alappuzha district on September 14) really heated up the competition with narrow wins. Since then, there has been rising suspense.”

Also, every venue has its unique water conditions. For instance, the fourth CBL leg on September 28 had the competitors paddle vigorously upstream the Moovattupuzha river in hilly Piravom of Ernakulam district. True, Tropical Titans’ winning binge continued, but the second and third teams were Mighty Oars and Raging Rovers, respectively. The heats, too, conjured up thrillers: the first six teams at the 900-metre Piravom track were decided in a range of mere six seconds.

At Kochi last week, Coast Dominators finished at 3:17.99, an inch or two ahead of Tropical Titans at 3:18.16 and Raging Rowers at 3:18.41. Currently, Raging Rowers occupy the four position in the tables with 33 points.

The all-Saturday CBL with huge prize monies was launched alongside the illustrious Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alappuzha on August 31. The final is at Kollam on November 23, overlapping with the President’s Trophy Boat Race. The 10 races in between are spread across six districts of the coastal state. The next race is at Ponnani in upstate Malappuram district.

The topper of each day secures Rs 5 lakh, followed by Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for the teams finishing second and third, respectively. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per match. The overall winner of the championships is entitled to Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners, respectively.

The races are being routinely broadcast live, and will continue to be so during the rest of the legs. Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Asianet Worldwide, Asianet Plus, Hotstar, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana beam the event for an hour from 4 pm. The CBL (www.championsboatleague.in), billed as a game-changing initiative, seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit.

Tickets can be booked online through ‘Book my Show’ platform, besides outlets that facilitate spot purchase of tickets. The prices range from Rs 200 to 2,000. The schedule goes thus after the October 19 stage at Ponnani: October 26 (Kainakari, Alappuzha), November 2 (Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha district), November 9 (Kayamkulam, Alappuzha), November 16 (Kallada, Kollam district) and November 23 (Kollam, President’s Trophy Boat Race).