July 23, 2011

Published Clips: Tech Boss wins Snake Boat Race

(Originally published in Techgoss at http://www.techgoss.com/Story/398S11-Tech-boss-wins-Snake-Boat-Race.aspx. Available as reprint, contact for pricing and other details. (Copyright @ Resmi Jaimon)

While the men and women who head India’s IT-ITES are often in the news for bagging big deals and the wins after the implementation of tech projects, few have the same success in the sporting field as well. Quadra Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd Chairman Joseph Philip recently captained the team which won India’s most popular boating event – the Snake Boat race at Alleppey, Kerala

Joseph Philip, whose company Quadra Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd is based in Bangalore & Cochin, always had a passion for boating.  The Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race at Alleppey in Kerala is an annual competition. Each Chundan Vallam (snake boat) is up to 100 feet long and the race is held to commemorate the first visit of Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, to Kerala in 1952.

Joseph Philip, 56, is a mechanical engineer from NIT Calicut and also holds a Master in Business Administration from CUSAT, Cochin. 

Techgoss (TG): When and how did you get interested in boat racing? How did you learn the sport?
Joseph Philip (JP):
I belong to Kumarakom (the infamous region of Kerala backwaters) and the boat race was a part of me right from my childhood and school days. In our village, during those days, inter school boat races were the main sports in the school. Other sports were not known or important there.

TG: What commitment in terms of time, effort and money was involved in winning this race?
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most prestigious such race, and all the Snake Boats participating clubs plan right after every race for the next year. It took one month of physical effort from our club’s organizers for the procurement and fine tuning of our Snake boat, selection of the rowers etc. We practiced thrice every day, covering similar distance of Alleppey race at our village back waters. The boat race was on August 14th and prior to that, we practiced for twenty days. All rowers were selected from the local fisher folks and every practice day, they are given food and money. Usually, the Captain of the team takes care of the expenses.

TG:  Give us some details about your team including how many people were there in your team. Did the team have techies?
The entire team is built in and around the Kumarakom Village. Most of them are fisher folks who catch from the Vembanad Lake. The rowers consisted of about ninety five including five Amaram and Seven Thalam. This sport may be the only one in the world with over ninety participants in a competing team. In addition to this, we needed to have substitutes of about fifteen and another team of fifteen for planning, administration and support. There were no techies other than me in this team.

TG: Apart from the 58th Nehru Trophy Snake boat race, have you been honored earlier in such races? In which other snake boat race events have you participated so far?
As a Captain, this was the first year I participated in the Snake Boat race. This year, we participated in Champakulam, Kottayam and Kumarakom boat races other than the Nehru Trophy.

TG: What are the challenges you faced during a mega event like Nehru 58th Nehru Trophy Snake boat race?
This year the competition was of a very high standard and most of the participants were practicing for a larger number of days and very seriously. The Quilon Jesus Boat Club were competing for their third victory. They practiced for over three months, including high altitude training at Munnar/Thekkady for few days. We had to beat them in the heats to participate in the final of the Nehru Trophy. In the final too, all the four Snake boats had a difference of only three seconds. There was less than fifteen feet difference between the first and the fourth place. With such stiff competition this year, winning the trophy was a great feeling.

TG: How do you find time for such sporting events in the middle of your busy schedule?
My Company is currently managed by a team of professionals. I am not involved in the day to day management.

TG: Are you involved only in snake boat racing events or have interest and participate in other sports as well?
I am also keen in yachting and participate on week ends.

TG: Are you participating in any sporting event in the near future?
I am planning to participate in some ocean going yachting activities in the near future.

TG: What advice do you have for those who wish to participate in snake boat race events?
Snake Boat race is one of the rare water sports events where over ninety persons synchronously row giving their best efforts to bring out the best results. This is the real team spirit and managing a winning team is really wonderful.

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