Second edition of Champions Boat League to begin in Kerala on Sep 4

The second edition of the Champions Boat League (CBL) will be held from September 4 to November 26 in twelve venues across five districts in Kerala, announced state tourism minister PA Mohammed Riyas on Saturday.

The inaugural leg of the snake-boat races will be held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha alongside the iconic Nehru Trophy Boat Race on September 4, the minister said at a curtain-raiser event here.

Concluding with the famed President’s Trophy in Kollam on November 26, CBL-2 is being organised by Kerala Tourism as consecutive weekend events after the inaugural at the sprawling Punnamada Lake, 50km south of this city.

CBL-2, like its first edition held in 2019, will have half its legs in Alappuzha district, two each in Kollam and Ernakulam districts and one each in Thrissur and Kottayam districts.

The venues in Alappuzha will be Pulinkunnu, Kainakary, Karuvatta, Pandanadu (Chengannur) and Kayamkulam, besides the district headquarter city. Piravom and Marine Drive will be the venues in Ernakulam, while Kollam town and Kallada will be those in Kollam district. Thazhathangadi (Kottayam) and Kottapuram (near Kodungallur in Thrissur district) are the other venues.

Besides, there will be an allied round, featuring a competition of small boats, at the Chaliyar river in Kozhikode district, said Riyas, who also unveiled the new jerseys of the nine CBL teams.

The final, which is set to be held at the scenic Ashtamudi Lake, is 60km north of the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

The debut CBL edition, which was flagged off by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the presence of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar in August 2019, featured nine teams and carried prize money totalling Rs 5.86 crore.

Snake-boats have seven centuries of history, starting with an order of Chembakassery principality’s 14th-century king Devanarayanan to design wooden vessels with one prow rising in the shape of a reptile’s hood.

The ruler won the battle in the sprawling backwaters, earning more reputation to the 138-foot-long boats as multipurpose carriers too.

The looks of the boat made from wild jackfruit trees remain unchanged in the present times, only that CBL rules permit the number of rowers to be between 80 and 100 (when the capacity can be 150).

Kerala has a string of local boat races, but the first among them to gain national notice was named Nehru Trophy Boat Race (NTBR).

That was in 1952, when the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was the chief guest at the boat-race on the Punnamada Lake in water-logged Kuttanad. So excited was Nehru on seeing the racing boats that he got into one of them and went on to donate a silver trophy before returning to Delhi.

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