On Saturday the 25th of June 2016, Colombo Rowing Club will host the 78th Madras-Colombo Regatta. It all began in 1898, when two of the oldest rowing clubs in the region, the Madras Boat Club -which was founded in 1867 – and the Colombo Rowing Club – which was founded in 1864 – decided to pit their best oarsmen against each other. With this inaugural boat race the two clubs formed a strong rapport and this year’s Madras – Colombo Regatta marks 118 years of this friendship and rivalry.
Over the years there were sporadic breaks during the two World Wars and an interval between 1983 and 1993 due to the civil war in Sri Lanka. However, although the regatta itself has not been a consistent annual event, the ties between the two clubs have remained constant. Madras – Colombo has definitely played its part in constantly raising the bar for young oarsmen and oarswomen in addition to forging relationships that transcend cultural differences.
Anyone who has been to an encounter, whether it be the Royal-Thomian, LC-MC, or Ananda-AIS, is well aware of how important a boat race is. The Madras-Colombo Regatta’s boat race is known for being one of the oldest inter-institutional boat races in the world, after the renowned Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, which began in 1839, and the Harvard-Yale Boat Race, which began in 1854.
The Deepam Trophy, which was donated by the Madras Boat Club in 1973 to commemorate the 50th Madras-Colombo Regatta, is awarded to the overall winner of the men’s category. The overall winner of the women’s category, which was introduced in 1968, is awarded the Adyar Cup. Each category has a scull race, a double scull race, a pair race and a four race and the winners are decided on a point system.
Whether the crews are racing down the Beira Lake in Colombo or the Adyar in Chennai, Madras-Colombo has always had a high standard of competition. The crews train for weeks and go through a grueling selection process to represent their respective clubs. We usually find ourselves having to choose which crew to support – whether we should cheer on the boat with our friends, the boat from our school, a relative’s crew etc. At Madras Colombo we can all unite to support the Colombo Rowing Club that will be represent Sri Lankan rowing at this prestigious regatta. The regatta will start at 1 pm on the 25th of June at the Rowing Club. So come and cheer loud as the Colombo Rowing Club takes on the Madras Boat Club!