TIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Ending months-long speculation and deliberations, and the acclaimed IPL format is taking to the waters of the state with the Kerala boat race set to premier in the league style starting this season. Billed as the first ever attempt in the history of the snake boat races in the state, the Kerala Tourism Department is holding the Kerala Boat Race League (KBRL) by bringing the major boat races in the state - from the Nehru Trophy boat race at Punnamada lake to President’s Trophy Boat Race in Kollam - under a single platform.
The two-month-long regatta, as with the celebrated IPL format, makes 75 per cent local participation mandatory, and limits the participation of oarsmen from other states and abroad to 25 per cent. There will be a series of league rounds to decide the finalists of the event. Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the main boat races venues from five districts - Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, and Thrissur - will be included in the league rounds of the KBRL. The qualifying round for the league will be the Nehru Trophy Boat Race which begins on August 11; followed by the league rounds. The final of the league will be the famed President’s Trophy Boat Race in Kollam.
Out of the 20 teams contesting in the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, nine top teams will be selected for the league rounds to be held in Punnamada, Pulinkunnu, Kainakari, Karuvatta, Mavelikkara, Kayamkulam, Piravom, Poothotta, Kottappuram, Thazathangadi, Kallada and Kollam boat races. Each team that qualifies for the league round will be given a sum of Rs 4 lakh as bonus for each venue. The top three performers in each league will be given prize money ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. The state government is planning to provide cash prize ranging from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for the winners in the final to be held in Kollam on November 1, said the minister.
It is expected the event would cost around Rs 15 crore and the state government has earmarked a fund of ` 10 crore for the event. The balance amount will be collected through sponsorship, the minister said. The event will be a two-month-long visual treat for tourists who visit the state to witness the regatta. The Tourism Department will hold promotional campaigns on international platforms to attract more tourists, he added. Though the main snake boat races will be brought under the league, the events organised as part of the traditional ceremonies will be spared from the league.