First time an all woman team from the district would be competing in the most prestigious regatta of the season.
The snake boats are battle ready: fumigated and polished. And the men geared up for the encounter: celebrated as among the most popular regatta in the tourism circuit. When the Nehru Trophy Boat Race opens for its 60th edition, six teams and nearly 600 oarsmen from Kottayam would be at Punnamada.
For the first time an all woman team from the district would create history by competing in the most prestigious regatta of the season, so far a male bastion. The Vanitha Boat Club at Kumarakom, established in 2007, had earlier competed in a steel boat since no one was ready to part with a Chundan for them. This is for the first time that the women mostly from the Kari Colony of the panchayat are competing in a snake boat.
Their boat, Nadubhagom Chundan is becoming part of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race history for the second time: it was on this boat that the Nadubhagom Boat club took the first Trophy in 1952 from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In fact all the chundans, except one, competing from the district, have a history of lifting the Trophy at least once.
The 2011 trophy was lifted by Devas, the chundan on which Angel Boat Club from Manchadikkari competes this year. Last year, it was the Jesus Boat Club from Kollam who had lifted the trophy on the Chundan. Kumarakom Boat Club on Cheruthana Kumarakom Town Boat Club on Jawahar ThayankariThiruvarpu Boat Club on Karichal has selected boats with a winning streak. The Village Boat Club on Illikkalam is the only exception.
Among the chundans, Illikkalam Chundan is the largest. The boat will be manned by 91 oarsmen and five on the stern. Most of the others will have 81 oarsmen with 5 on stern. Among the clubs, Kumarakom Boat club and Kumarakom Town Boat club have took the Trophy home many times- Kumarakom Boat club seven times and Town Boat club six.
According to club managers, each of team would have to spend Rs.17 lakh to Rs.22 lakh to complete their 15 day- practice session, in addition to the rentals for their Chundans. While nearly half the amount would come from the club captain the rest would have to be raised through sponsorship.
After keeping Friday as a day of rest, the Chundans would leave their clubs by 8 am on Saturday. They would be tugged to the race course while the oarsmen would travel by boats. According to organizers, the first heats would be the toughest as the Village Boat Club on Illikkalam, Town Boat Club on Jawahar Thayankari and last years winners Jesus Boat Club on Anari would be competing.