The 6th Nehru Trophy Boat Race was inaugurated on Saturday by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Payippadan of Vembanadu Boat Club, Kumarakom, ended up in the third position and Karichal Chundan finished in fourth position in the final, which had a delayed start due to glitches in the starting system. A total of 78 boats, including the 20 snake boats, lined up this time.
The grand finale of the snake boat race was won by Gabriel snake boat, edging out its nearest rival by a whisker. Complaints of inclusion of rowers from other states beyond the stipulated 25 percent by some boat clubs added to the confusion in the final lap. Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, District Collector Veena N.Madhavan, and other officials went to the spot and managed to resolve the issue. Without doubt there were more than 30,000 spectators and as in the past, the turnout of foreign tourists was also very good.
A large number of spectators including foreigners thronged the banks of the lake to get a glimpse of the event, which is considered as one of the biggest water-sport events in the country.
The history of the event dates to 1952 when Nehru visited the area and a small flotilla of decorated boats accompanied him from Kottayam to Alappuzha on the famed backwaters.
The members of the Ernakulam-based boat club dipped their oars in unison, leading the majestic chundan (snake boat) to the finishing point, pushing fellow competitors behind. This trophy is awarded to the victor of the snake boat category every year.