Kerala Tourism is all set to host the country's first-ever boat racing patterned on the IPL format of cricket, as the Champions Boat League (CBL) beginning this weekend. The CBL will have nine teams vying for top honours and prize money totalling Rs 5.9 crore at the three-month event
scheduled across the state.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar would be the star presence at the championship's opening leg that would be flagged off by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the sprawling Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, 50 km south of this city, a Kerala Tourism release said here Thursday.
The boat league, with 11 more races staggered over the intervening weekends, would conclude in Kollam on November 1(Kerala's Formation Day) alongside the famed Nehru Trophy BoatRace.
Conceived as an annual global spectacle, the ticketed snake-boat races being held from 2 pm to 5 pm would be broadcast live.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the CBL is a game-changing initiative that would professionalise the largely scattered snake-boat races by commercialising them while keeping intact the conventional spirit.
The CBL would also be a fascinating tourism product with enormous potential to attract visitors from far and wide during Kerala's monsoon season from early June to late October, he said.
"Apart from creating a breathtaking new visual experiencefor the visitors in Kerala's panoramic backwaters, it will also benefit local communities, given its focus on social aspects," the minister added.
The opening race this Saturday (August 10) coincides with the famed Nehru Trophy Boat Race at the same venue, while the final would overlap with the equally illustrious President's Trophy Boat Race.
The final would be held at the scenic Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam, 60 km north of the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram. The CBL's Rs 5.9-crore prize money makes it the fourth highest in all sports in India, organisers said.
The first three winners of each match would get Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh, and Rs 1 lakh, respectively. Further, all participants would get a bonus prize of Rs 4 lakh for each match.
Kerala Tourism said it plans to organise an auction downthe course of the CBL, till which it would own all the nine teams.