Kallada river in pre-final frenzy, to host 11th leg this weekend

Kallada river awaits the penultimate round of Champions Boat League (CBL) races this Saturday, a week ahead of the finals of the pioneering three-month event being organised by Kerala Tourism across five districts of the state.

Coinciding with the traditional Kallada Boat Race, the 11th leg of the CBL at the venue, close to the Munroe Islands in this southern district, on November 16 will see nine snake-boats vying for top honours. Tropical Titans are atop the overall tally with 143 points that give them an unassailable edge over rivals.

Behind the leading team at the end of CBL Round 10 held in Kayamkulam of neighbouring Alappuzha district on November 9 are Raging Rowers (70) and Coast Dominators (63) followed by Mighty Oars (62) in the fourth spot.

If Tropical Titans win the Kallada round, they will earn a third hat-trick in the tournament being held on the lines of IPL cricket. The team had won their first hat-trick in Race-3 at Karuvatta (September 14) and at Kainakary (October 26). After Kainakary, Tropical Titans finished first in the subsequent races at Pulinkunnu and Kayamkulam in the all-weekend championship with prize monies totalling Rs 5.9 crore that make CBL the fourth-highest paid sporting event in the country.

It was only at Kochi, on October 5, that the team lost a CBL round. At Marine Drive in downtown Ernakulam, Coast Dominators emerged the surprise victor.

“A team likely to win three hat-tricks may look as if the league is lopsided. But then, quite a few CBL races have seen photo-finish results, be it the heats or finals,” notes a top Kerala Tourism official. “The apparent domination of a team no way makes the league less exciting. What’s more, every venue has its individual charm.”

As snake-shaped canoes typically carrying an average of 100 rowers each, the chundan vallams are central to post-monsoon Kerala’s races that are a festive recall of several backwater battles the provincial chiefs fought half a millennium ago. In the process of organising the CBL, Kerala Tourism also strives for the rejuvenation of traditional boat races held typically in the post-monsoon months across the state’s coast.

The CBL final on November 23 will be at the scenic Ashtamudi lake by Kollam city, coinciding with the President’s Trophy Boat Race. The 12-round event was inaugurated at the Punnamada lake in Alappuzha, where cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar was the chief guest on August 31.

Any round’s topper secures Rs 5 lakh, while the first runner-up gets Rs 3 lakh and the second runner-up Rs 1 lakh. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per round. The overall CBL winner gets Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners.

Described by the western press as “utterly brilliant”, the races are being broadcast live. Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Asianet Worldwide, Asianet Plus, Hotstar, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana will continue to beam the future CBL rounds live for an hour from 4 pm.

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.