Rowing competitions return to Lake with state championship

KOLKATA: Two 13-year-old girls racing in a double scull event at the state rowing championship at Rabindra Sarobar fell in the water after their boat capsized on Wednesday. Help arrived swiftly on a speedboat and the two were pulled out of the water within 90 seconds.
This is the first time competitive rowing events were being held at the Lake since the death of two South Point students during a practice session ahead of a competition 10 months ago. The efficient rescue on Wednesday was greeted by cheers from rowers and parents alike. Rowing officials said the incident acted as a morale booster.

"Boat capsize is a normal incident during any form of rowing. It was unfortunate that we couldn't save the two students last year. But now we are equipped to act faster, as was demonstrated on Wednesday. The two rowers themselves were also prepared and held on to the boat. Both were unhurt," said Raja Dasgupta, secretary of WBRA.
On May 21 last year, two South Point High School students - Pushan Sadhukhan (14) and Souryadeep Chatterjee (14) - drowned during a squall during practice. It led to immediate suspension of all rowing activities at the Lake for the next five months, after which rowing practise resumed with new SOPs by Kolkata Police and KMDA in place.

According to rowers and organisers, Wednesday marked the resumption of full fledged rowing activities at the lake with the return of championships, regattas and tournaments.
Wednesday was the first day of the four-day tournament where rowers from Calcutta Rowing Club (CRC), Bengal Rowing Club (BRC), Lake Club and Kolkata competed under four categories - under 13, under 15, under 18, and open championship. There were 28 races of all major events, like scull, double scull, pairs and fours. The organisers said apart from sticking to the SOP, they maintained additional precaution by starting the event at 6.30am and wrapping it up by 10am, before any chance of nor'wester or evening showers.

"The rowers had to submit a declaration that they can swim 50m to the shore in rowing clothes in case the boat capsizes, even as rescue boats with lifeguards were ready along with ambulances. Red lights and flags were in place, and so was a siren to signal if there was forecast of breeze of 40kmph and above. Before the event, we briefed all participants about the safety protocols, and they were followed accordingly," said Dasgupta.

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