Tropical Titans win photo-finish final to lift CBL trophy, next edition to be pan-Kerala
Kollam: Far from being complacent over a triple hat-trick that had given them an invincible lead in the tournament, Tropical Titans rowed their snake-boat to glory yet again in a photo-finish final at the 12th leg of the Champions Boat League (CBL) to score 173 points overall, emerging as winners of the inaugural edition of the pioneering water event.
At the splendid Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam, amid high suspense over the CBL’s runners-up, Raging Rowers came second this evening by gaining a narrow edge over Mighty Oars who ended third in a thoroughly spirited race that marked the finale of the championship modelled on IPL cricket.
The victors had a lead of mere 11 milliseconds over their immediate rivals, while the team that came third was just 13 milliseconds behind the runners-up.
The spectators cheered aloud as Tropical Titans emerged victors with a timing of 4:33.69 minutes along the 1 km track, while Raging Rowers clocked 4:33.80 and Mighty Oars 4:33.93. The final round of the CBL coincided with the annual President’s Trophy Boat Race (PTBR) that began from 2011.
The ‘Nerolac Excel Fastest Team of the Day’ also went to Tropical Titans with the best timing of 4:21.50 in the heats. The team thus got five points besides 10 for finishing first in the finals. Tropical Titans had earlier scored hat-tricks in the third round at Karuvatta (September 14), in the eighth leg at Kainakary (October 26) and the 11th leg at Kallada (November 16).
Here’s the list of teams in the overall tally: Tropical Titans (first 173 points), Raging Rowers (second, 86), Mighty Oars (third, 76), Coast Dominators (fourth, 75), Backwater Knights (fifth, 60), Pride Chasers (sixth, 50), Backwater Warriors (seventh, 37), Thunder Oars (eighth, 28) and Backwater Ninjas (ninth, 26).
Last weekend at Kallada in this district, the penultimate round of the all-Saturday CBL had left Mighty Oars share the third rank of the table with Coast Dominators when each team totalled 69 points. Today’s final witnessed a remarkably close race with Coast Dominators not figuring among the top three.
Coast Dominators, though, were the only team to win a round in this CBL. That was at Kochi on October 5.
The CBL, which was organised in 11 venues across five districts of the state, did succeed in rejuvenating Kerala’s traditional boat races with a high degree of professionalism.
What’s more, all the 12 races brought in huge crowds with the total number of viewers pegged at 22 lakh at the end of the championships that began on August 31 with cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar as the chief guest at the inaugural venue in Alappuzha’s Vembanad Lake.
The success has prompted the government to make next year’s CBL pan-Kerala.
The final round, which also hosted races for the smaller boats as part of the PTBR, was inaugurated by Kerala Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac, with N K Premachandran, MP, as the chief guest.
The others to address the gathering were Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma, actor-legislator M Mukesh, M Noushad MLA, Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation MD Krishna Teja, Kollam District Collector Abdul Nasar, Kollam Mayor-in-Charge Vijaya Francis and Zilla Panchayat President C Radhamani.
Only once in this CBL did Tropical Titans fail to finish first. That was in Kochi on October 5 when Coast Dominators surprised the cosmopolitan gathering by outsmarting the regular victors in a photo finish.
The event also triggered huge interest in the western media with a leading newspaper of the UK describing it as “brilliant”.
Enthused by the resounding success of the pioneering Champions Boat League (CBL), the Kerala government is taking the water event’s next edition to venues across the state, two key ministers said.
The 2020 CBL will be pan-Kerala, thus spreading northward across Malabar, Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac and his tourism counterpart Kadakampally Surendran said at the 12th and final round of the league. The CBL’s valedictory function coincided with the President’s Trophy Boat Race at the scenic Ashtamudi Lake.
The first CBL was conceived to be held in six districts but that figure ended up to be five as technical issues forced organisers to skip the October 19 Ponnani round in north-central Malappuram district. Tropical Titans entered the record book in a blaze of glory by emerging as the champions of the inaugural edition.
The next CBL will have its rounds in northern parts of the state with stronger sponsorships from corporate houses, Dr Isaac said.
The organisational work for the 2020 edition will start as early as in January, he added, noting that the pioneering CBL did attract international viewership owing to foreign tourists as well as live beaming of the races by national and international TV channels.
Surendran said the trendsetting CBL has succeeded in reviving Kerala’s traditional boat races besides injecting into them a dose of professionalism in tune with the times.
“The CBL has lent a brand value to the boat races. I am sure the rules of the league will evolve stronger formats in the future editions,” he added, recalling instances of how cricket has formulated novel concepts in its course from the Test version to Twenty20.
The CBL has had several instances of photo-finish across its 12 editions, the minister added, hinting at the competitive spirit of the participants.
Kerala Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma noted how “excellent coordination” between the various departments of the state made CBL “world-class”.
Kerala Tourism Secretary P Bala Kiran said that “Kerala Tourism has succeeded in pulling off the near-impossible task of creating & conducting a inaugural IPL style league with so many unknowns - 3,000 players, 12 venues on rivers, 8 TV channels, 6 languages commentary, legal agreements, umpteen first time organisational challenges and learnings.”
Overall, 22 lakh people have viewed the championship at 12 venues.
The league had 19.5 million viewers on TV and social media channels that was flagged off by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar at the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on August 31.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated the opening leg.
The concluding event at Kollam had N K Premachandran, MP, as the chief guest. Presided over by actor and legislator Mukesh, the ceremony was addressed also by M Noushad, MLA, Kollam Mayor-in-Charge Vijaya Francis and Zilla Panchayat President C Radhamani.