Thousands flock to see boat race in Kollam

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 02, 2012 10:30 hrs

Thousands of people participated in the annual boat race in Kollam, Kerala, on Friday.

The event was organised at the Asramam creek of the Ashtamudi Lake.

Large number of locals gathered at the riverside to support their favourite teams, as the rowers rolled their crafted boats into the backwaters.

Lending fillip to the race, ace Indian tennis player Sania Mirza inaugurated the event on Thursday (November 01) and also gave best wishes to the participants.

"Honourable president last year inaugurated it, so I thank you for the honour and I think, I would love to come back here for holidays one day. I now declare the President's Trophy Boat Race, 2012 open," said Mirza.

Around 58 boats of various categories participated in the race, among which 18 were the snake boats.

People filled with excitement were seen cheering and supporting their respective teams.

The first boat race was held here in 1952 to honour the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was on a trip to the state.

Impressed by the vibrant sport, Nehru had donated a rolling trophy for the winner and since then this competition gained more popularity with each passing year.

The boat race also heralds the beginning of the tourist season in Kerala.

The popularity of such races has increased manifold in the last few years. The provincial administration is looking forward to launch such events in several other districts of the state.

Snake boats are long and narrow, originally designed to transport soldiers to the war front with speed of about 50 kilometres (31 miles) an hour. But these days they are exclusively used for races.

The construction of the boat, usually over 50 metres long, takes nearly two years and costs over USD 40,000 each. (ANI)

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