|The 82nd Merchantís Cup last year at the Dhakuria Lakes
While Sawarn Singh, the 22-year-old Indian rower, is making waves at the London Olympics in the singles scull quarter-finals (his 7 minute 11.59 second feat broke the India record in singles scull), Calcutta will not just be catching all the action on TV but also at the Dhakuria Lakes. Come Thursday, corporate rowers will engage in a battle of oars in one of the oldest sports in the city.
What: Royal Challenge presents the 83rd Merchant’s Cup Regatta, in association with the Calcutta Rowing Club (CRC) and The Telegraph.
Where: Calcutta Rowing Club, 15 Rabindra Sarobar (Dhakuria Lakes).
When: August 2 to 4.
Looking back: Set up in 1858 by the British, CRC hosted its first Merchant’s Cup in 1902. Even if it meant irregular races back then, it was a heady start and there was much enthusiasm surrounding this mercantile sport.
In 1926, the Merchant’s Cup was revived and held regularly, though its address underwent a number of changes, from Babughat to Kidderpore to finally its present venue at Rabindra Sarobar in 1928. The Dhakuria Lakes have played host to the Merchant’s Cup since then.
Races in store: Fourteen corporate teams have registered for this year’s Regatta, including Gillander Arbuthnot, HSBC, Deloitte and MN Dastur. Registration will be open till the early hours of August 2 to encourage more teams to sign up.
The tournament will not only involve different kinds of boats, but also feature a range of exciting races like dinghy race and tub pairs, which were introduced in 2010 to encourage the participation of inexperienced rowers with a month or so of practice. The regular single sculls, double sculls, coxless pairs and coxless fours will of course be there, and all the races will follow the knockout format of elimination.
Just in time: Keeping in mind the corporate lifestyle and time constraints, the organisers have kept an early start and end for the first two days of the tournament, 6.30am to 10am.
However, the last day of the Regatta being a Saturday, the races will go on throughout the day. The evening will be reserved for prize distribution followed by a gala dinner and music to set the mood.
Club speak: “Rowing is slowly growing in popularity, so it’s always heartening to see an increase in the number of participating teams each year. Moreover, the Olympics rowing events are happening now and will come to an end on August 4, the same day we have our Regatta finals. It will be quite interesting for us to discuss the Games as we get together at the club for the races. Even better if we get to see the Indian team reach the finals,” said Chandan Roy Choudhury, the honorary secretary of Calcutta Rowing Club and the new president of the West Bengal Rowing Association.