Photo finish as three boats vie for honours in Champakulam Moolam race
ALAPPUZHA: The 400-year-old Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, which marks the beginning of the boat race season in the State, was mired in chaos, as the event ended without the winner being announced here on Saturday.
A hasty declaration by the commentators and the alleged crossing of tracks by one of the contesting boats marred the finale of the event, which otherwise encapsulated the spirit of boat races with photo finish preliminaries, roaring crowds on both banks of the Pampa River, colourful processions, banners and electrifying music.
The action-packed final moments of the race had three prominent boats — Cheruthana, Sri Ganesh and Jawahar Thayankari — crossing the finishing point with the lead barely visible to the naked eye. With no facilities for the judges to take a decision through video replays arranged at the venue, chaos prevailed as one of the commentators announced Sri Ganesh as the winner before the official declaration.
Contestants and the public rushed to the judges’ pavilion, and as the situation threatened to snowball into mayhem, the organisers announced that the winner would be declared after a meeting between the District Collector and captains of the three boats at the District Collectorate on Monday.
Later, Coir and Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran distributed prizes to the winners in other categories. Earlier, Kuttanad MLA Thomas Chandy inaugurated the ceremonies while Kuttanad Tahsildar A.M. Najeeb flagged off the boats. Prominent boats such as Champakulam, St. George, Nadubhagam and Ayaparambu Valiya Diwanji could not qualify for the finals. Travancore Devaswom Board president C.K. Gupthan, K.C. Venugopal and K.K. Shaju, MLAs, were also present.