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Row, row, row your boat
Anukriti Sharma | Monday, 20 March 2017 AT 08:41 PM IST
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You spot a group near the banks of the Mula river listening carefully to the organiser who is giving them necessary instructions. The enthusiasm and determination is visible on their faces as they move past all the hurdles in the water to gather at the right time to create a perfect shape. Well, such intense practice is a requisite when we talk about the upcoming prestigious event Regatta organised by College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP).

Entering its 89th edition, Regatta will showcase various events including Kayak Ballet, Shell Games, Telematches, Punt Formation and Mashaal Dance, and also the introductory event Arrow formation for people to come out and experience the unique show. In fact, the students this year will be following the theme of ‘Women Empowerment’ which will be displayed through their formations. The shell games will be a display of sleek and swift shell boats with oars impelled by the skilled rowers against the unpredictable currents of the river, while the Kayak ballet will consist of various dynamic shapes created by the use of very unstable boats called Kayaks.

We speak to the participants and organisers to know more about the magnificent event and how they are preparing for it.

Regatta is one of the oldest events in the city and it is unique in its own way. We are preparing for this event for the past two months and spending four hours every morning and evening for practice. The enthusiasm and the speed that you get to experience during the event is what prompted me to participate this time. We make certain formations during the event for our viewers. It is a matter of hard work, coordination and bonding between the participants. It is exciting to see the energy of people who come out to watch us. I am a part of the kayaking team, it’s really difficult which is why you need to practise everyday. In fact, forming these shapes is a risky task since there is always a risk of hitting other boats because there is just a 2-mm gap between two boats that are going to cross each other. There are three types of boats — K4 which has four people, K2 will have two people while one person will be handling the K1 boat. We can’t work on guesswork, we need to be confident while handling the boat.
— Shubham Bhutada, Second Year student

You can call Regatta a tradition of CoEP and this time, we will be presenting different shows for our audience. We have been practising since January and it is going to be a really thrilling show. There is a need for perfection and dedication in order to put up a good show for people. We try to maximise our efforts and invest as much energy as we can during practice because that will be reflected in our original performance. We have also been taught how to handle things if something goes wrong, and ensure that viewers don’t get to know even if things go a bit haywire. We will try to showcase the theme of ‘women empowerment’ during our exit which will be the last part of the show. Girls will be handling the boats and some props will be given to them to reflect the theme. There is no difference between a girl and boy, all of them can implement equal strength and perform equally well.
— Anju Sivaprasad, First Year STUDENT

It is quite interesting and when you see the boats moving in the water and creating shapes, it is a completely different experience. I was quite interested in water sports since the beginning and when I saw people do kayaking, I was instantly interested because it was really unique. We still get to see rowing on our television sets but kayaking is still not that famous a sport. It is quite difficult and since I have never been a sports person, increasing stamina was a challenge in the initial days. There are multiple steps through which they teach us, first you just have to do the rounds. Slowly you increase your duration of rounds and making shapes in the water is the last step. Bonding is really necessary while pursuing kayaking since we need to understand the other person. If one boat is not able to complete the shape on time or have to back out at the last minute, then we instinctively fill in for them. Thus, coordination is the key.
— Bhavit Jain, First Year STUDENT

The rowing boats are called the shell boats, so we have one part of the event called shell games. It helps people develop control over the shell boats which are extremely unstable and rowing is one of the most excruciating physical sports, which is why we are trying to train rowers to participate at the national and international level as well. We initially start with the wooden boats which are stable enough to teach the techniques to the students. There are 40 participants who have been practising for this event since past two months along with five organisers. There are times when people fall in the water too but we don’t let that demoralise them. We just help them work on their techniques more. We also have a motorboat ready at all times just in case someone falls out of their boat. In the beginning, the participants are told to row closer to the banks since there are a lot of rocks, the centre section is really deep, so we take them to cover that area once they become a little confident. Generally, fewer girls are involved in rowing but this time, we have worked on the techniques and power of the girls too so that they can also be a part of creating incredible shapes in the water.
— Mandar Darekar, Organiser

The author can be followed on Twitter @sh_anukriti

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