Waveless boat makes maiden voyage at Colombo Rowing Club
The dazzling night of October 17, 2012 when Indra Sri Karunatilake won the inaugural Ray Award for his invention of an eco-friendly
boat was just the beginning. Being awarded “The Ray” by the Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust along with the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) and the Commercial Bank saw this former accountant invest all his time and energy into turning his award-winning invention into a complete product. That was accomplished when Mr. Karunatilake’s ‘waveless’ boat was launched last Thursday.
Mr. Karunatilake’s creation left few ripples or waves in its wake, as it chugged along the waterfront at the Colombo Rowing Club. The inventor fondly known to the Trust as ‘Karu’ explained to the appreciative gathering just how he did it and that fewer
waves meant lesse erosion and damage to the flora and fauna.
Growing up in a family that ran a ferry service he was keen to continue the family tradition but faced challenges when there were restrictions on using motor boats in the interest of preserving the environment. The only solution he saw was to simply build a boat that didn’t make waves. His creation has an asymmetric hull which means no waves would be generated.
The Trust received a total of 56 applications initially in July 2012 and narrowed it down to just six, of which Mr. Karunatilake’s was the ultimate winner. The ‘Ray’ award which aims to encourage and nurture innovation in memory of the iconic Sri Lankan inventor Ray Wijewardene carries a grant of Rs. 1 million.
“In any case, inventors are like artists,” said the Commissioner of the SLIC Deepal Sooriyaarachchi, adding, “and unless you can distance yourself from your creation, you can’t be successful.” Going back to the inventor’s early days the Commissioner recalled that “Ray was an oarsman himself and it feels fitting that a boat should win the first award in his memory,” and that it should be launched at the Rowing Club where “he was exposed to the wonders of the world.”
Seeing that the connection between the work of Mr. Karunatilake and the memory of Ray Wijewardene was a happy coincidence. Mr. Sooriyarachchi admits that he “never even thought about the connection” when he sat on the judging panel that recognized Mr. Karunatilake’s work.
Trustee of the Commercial Bank CSR Trust Nadika Buddipala said they were proud to have believed in and supported Mr. Karunathilake in memory of a name synonymous with science and invention.
Having always looked up to Dr. Ray Wijewardene and his work Mr. Karunatilake who vowed to finish the project in his memory said humbly, “It was my tribute to him.”