REVIEW

Cox & Queens: At The Annual Chennai M&B Regatta

October 26, 2007
DesiGirl

With inputs and photos, courtesy Ranjani Shankar.

The early morning sunlight, spreading out in the sky in the background; the faint smudges of it reflected in the water in the foreground - from an odd angle, it may well be mistaken for one of the Regattas held periodically on the Thames. But no, it wasn't! This, unbelievably, is on the 'River' Cooum, Chennai! And the event - the the annual Merchants and Bankers Regatta Championship conducted by the Madras Boat Club!

A Corporate draw


The Club, (annual membership fee Rs 50,000!) situated in Adyar, near the banks of the River Cooum, has been conducting the Regatta for the past 80 years, churning out some of the country's best oarsmen and women. (Oarspersons?) The festive atmosphere, the competitive spirit and the beer, of course, along with some great camaraderie, makes this event a strong draw, year after year. The big corporate houses of Chennai, Sify, O&M, Element K, JWT all send their best men and women to this event.


The lineup


This year, there were seven all-women teams in all and the girls from Madras Houz, a production company, were crowned the winners in the women's races.

The race is 750 meters long and only two teams can race at a time. Every team submits two entries for the pairs race. The Madras Houz girls, comprising of Neela, Madras Houz (a music production house), colleague Uma, daughter Sharmishta and her friend Ranjani Shankar, decided to sign up for the event purely for a lark - and the fitness factor! Though sacrificing precious sleep, only to row on the dank waters of Cooum was the worst part, admits Ranjani.


Practicing with vigour


But the gutsy four soon got used to it; ' In fact, they take special care of the course where we row', says she.

So how did they actually prepare for this, their maiden, event?

'Well, we practiced every morning without fail, for two whole months. For an hour every day, we used to get extensive coaching from the Club coaches. Sheer hard graft helped us get better at it. We soon became quite fit and being on the water, that early in the morning, working together as a team - well, it changed the way we looked at our day. our life, even', Ranjani says, a touch philosophically.

The actual events were spread over four days - three days of heats followed by the actual, final, race. Like the other teams, the Madras Houz girls also split in two for the pairs race - Neela and Uma in one and Sharmishta and Ranjani in another.

'That was quite scary', admits Ranjani, 'taking on the corporate teams, with 5-6 years experience and us on our first ever race! In fact, while we were sitting on our boat, the two of us, the enormity of the task struck us with a force and we didn't hear them announcing till they shouted ROW!'

'That was when we realized our hidden depths of energy - we didn't spare a thought, just pulled together and took our boat home to the finish, to win our first race in style!', she laughs proudly. So you should be, girl!

After that, the girls had three more races to go through before reaching the finals. As luck would have it, their opponents for the finals were none other than the other Madras Houz women, Neela and Uma! What a double honour for the production house!


The Winning Madras Houz Team


The overall championship went to Element K, with their mens and womens teams.

The delighted Madras Houz girls, though, were thoroughly happy with their loot of huge trophies. 'Wish they had given us free membership to go with that, though!', adds Ranjani with a cheeky grin.

Writing is my passion and music is my soulmate. When I have a book in my hand and my music blasting in my ears, I am on top of the world. I would love to be a published author someday. But till then, I shall enthrall you all with my creative genius. :)
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