Kerala’s famed snake boat races, which have mesmerised visitors for ages, would take a new avatar, on the lines of Indian Premier League (IPL) from this year.
Kerala Tourism Department has announced the new format, Champion’s Boat League (CBL) in which the competition would be held be on a league format in 13 races across 13 venues in the Kerala backwaters.
The CBL would bring all major boat races in the state from the Nehru Trophy in Alappuzha to President’s Boat Trophy, Kollam, under one umbrella and would be held from August 11 to November 1, according to Tourism minister, Kadakkampally Surendran.
The objective is to conserve and promote Kerala’s traditional festivals, create an annual event to be marketed as a tourism product and showcase the state’s backwaters to the world, he said.
The nine snake-boats which emerge with the best timings in the Nehru Trophy would be participating in the succeeding 12 races of the maiden CBL.
Teams which get the first three positions in each venue of the league would be entitled to cash prizes of Rs 5 lakh, 3 lakh and one lakh respectively.
Besides, each of the teams that qualify for the league would be entitled to a bonus of Rs 4 lakh per venue.
The CBL champion would get a prize money of Rs 25 lakh, while the Runner-up would get Rs 15 lakh and the second runner-up Rs 10 lakh.
The league would commence with the Nehru Boat Trophy on Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on August 11.
It would be followed by Pulinkunnu (Aug 18), Karuvatta (August 28), Kottapuram (September 1), Thazhathangadi (September 8), Poothotta (September 15), Piravom (September 22), Kainakari (September 29), Kavanattinkara (October 6), Mavelikkara (October 13), Kayamkulam (October 20), Kallada (October 27), and Kollam (November 1).
The tourism department is hoping that at least 5000 to 1000 people would visit each of the 13 races during the three month period.
“The rainy season is a lean period. We wanted a product to sustain tourism for three months and whoever visits the state should get an opportunity to see at least one boat race,” Tourism director, P Bala Kiran, told PTI.
Snake Boats or ‘Chundan Vallams’ as they are called in local parlance are canoe style boats, which are 100 to 120 feet long and hold up to 100 rowers.