Rye Raft Race Draws the Bank Holiday Crowds
Rye and District Lions were delighted with the huge crowd of spectators that turned out to watch their 32nd Annual Rye Raft Race on Sunday. Despite many other attractions on a Bank Holiday weekend the public from Rye
and its surrounding area supported the event in record numbers, an estimated 5,000.
The ten rafts went into action with a pitched battle that started well before the race even got under way, continued throughout the race and even for a considerable time afterwards. There were two water cannon in evidence this year and these plus various other water projecting devices, water bombs and flour bombs very quickly soaked the crews and plastered them with flour. Many spectators joined in the bombardment, which the crews responded to in kind. The course this year was similar to last year, but shortened slightly, with three laps downstream from the river bridge, enabling spectators to watch from the river bank and the fishermen’s quay opposite.
The winning raft from Atlas Industrial Park fielded a celebrity crew member, Bill Granger, an Australian chef who has appeared on television here and written several cookery books. He also visited the fete as part of a programme that is being made showing him visiting quirky food events around this country. Other VIPs attending the event we r e Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd and Rye’s Mayor, John Breeds, who watched t he race from the Harbour Master’s boat.
Both Amber and John presented the silver trophies to the class winners and certificates to all crew members. There was a wide range of rafts, ranging from a few barrels tied together to pirate ships and tropical islands, with the majority of the crews in fancy dress.
The fastest raft was from Atlas Industrial Park winning the class for a crew of seven or over, sponsored by Calcutt Maclean Standen. Second was the raft entered by Lady Penelope Hairdressers looking very professional dressed as International rescue with their blue crash helmets.
The trophy for a raft with crew of six or under, sponsored by the Mermaid Inn, was Thrust 5, who came third overall and might have been first, but for a late start. Fourth was Rye Bonfire society. Fifth was Cliff’s (70) Crew who won the trophy for the raft with the most unusual construction, sponsored by Reg Niall, who were paddling their 70 year old father to celebrate his birthday. Sixth was Hawaii Rye O, who also won the trophy for the best fancy dress, also sponsored by Reg Niall. Seventh was Rye Ladies Netball Team looking rather glamorous in their sparkly wigs Rye Tyre and Brakes, with their impressive “pirate” ship, were eighth and also the winners of the highest sponsorship trophy, raising over £2,000 for St Michael’s Hospice. Ninth and winners of the last raft to finish unaided was Rye Leisure Centre. Tenth was the craft from Haydon’s Hay Bales which split into two, with half sinking with half the crew. The other half of the raft and crew attempted the course but needed help regaining the bank from one of the Harbour Master’s boats. Famous Australian Chef, Bill Granger, was guest of honour on the Atlas Raft but got no preferential treatment or protection from water canon and flour bombs.
The whole event, including the fete has raised a record amount this year. With the money raised directly by the Lions and the sponsorship raised by the raft crews it is anticipated that the total will be some £10,000. All of this will be donated to charities, local, national and international, with no deductions by the Lions for administration. The fete enjoyed by a record crowd was the largest the Lions had ever hosted with well over 60 stalls, rides and food stalls. Live music was from Richie McGowan and a rock band. The weather held until around 4pm, when, as forecast by the Met. Office a heavy rain shower brought proceedings to a close. Rye Lions wish to thank Rye Harbour Master, Carl Bagwell and his team, including Assistant Harbour Master, Tony Nichols and Rye Harbour Marine for their assistance. They would also like to thank Jempsons Commercial for their loan of a trailer for the live music and the MP, Amber Rudd and the Mayor John Breeds for attending and presenting the trophies and certificates and for the public of Rye and nearby for turning out in such huge numbers to support charity.
From Rye’s Own October 2010
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