Kerala to have a new boat race

Kayamkulam (Kerala), July 13: Kerala's famed boat race at Alappuzha is set to get competition this year. A Marxist legislator and boat race enthusiast has finalised plans to launch a boat race at Kayamkulam on Aug 28.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator C.K. Sadasivan has been working hard to ensure that the Kayamkulam boat race is a grand successs.

"You wait and see this is certainly going to give the world-renowned Nehru Boat Race at Alappuzha a run for its money. We are going to have the Kayamkulam boat race on a tributary of the Kayamkulam lake which has been restored by dredging," Sadasivan told IANS, adding that a pavilion on the lake was nearing completion.

Kayamkulam is about 110 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram and lies on NH 47. It is also the constituency of Sadasivan, a former coach and captain of the Kainankary Boat Club, which won a record 12 times at the Nehru Boat Race in the 1970s and 80s.

"We have spent Rs.20 million for restoring the racing water track, which was earlier a tributary of the Kayamkulam lake. The racing water track is 70 meters wide, 1,200 meters long and two metres deep. It will be ready soon," said Sadasivan.

Kerala's famed snake boat race got global acceptance when the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on a visit to the state in 1952 was accompanied by the snakeboats from Kottayam to Alappuzha, in an impromptu race in his honour.

Nehru was thrilled by the performance of the oarsmen and jumped into a snake boat.

On his return to Delhi, Nehru donated a silver trophy, a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature.

This is the trophy that the winner in the Nehru Boat Race gets.

"We are looking for sponsors for the event and are in talks with a few who have approached us. A Middle East-based businessman has agreed to be the major sponsor. We expect an expenditure of Rs.6 million for holding the event.

"There will be races in six categories of boats, which include the traditional snake boat," Sadasivan said without disclosing the name of the sponsor.

(Sanu George can be contacted at sanu.g@ians.in)

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