Rye Raft Race 2012

Sun shines on the Lions Raft Race and Fete

By Conrad Freezer

This year, despite the dubious weather forecast, the sun shone on a record crowd at the Annual Rye Raft Race and Fete organised by Rye and District Lions Club. This was the 34th Race organised by the Lions who usually expect some 5,000 members of the public to attend. However, this year the numbers were so great that they found it impossible to estimate how many turned up for the event, but many, many more than ever before. The queues for both the barbecue and the beer tent were long and both ran out just before the end of the day. The Lions are still adding up the money, but estimate that the day raised some £6,500 for charity and that is not including any money that the raft crews themselves raised from sponsorship.

Richie McGowan, together with several other musicians and bands played throughout the afternoon to the great delight of the public who sat on the grass, or were picnicking and several couples danced to the music.

The Lions were a little disappointed at a smaller entry of rafts this year and are already planning how to bring the number up to the usual level for next year. However, those stalwarts competing completed the three laps of the course following the start signal on the klaxon, whilst bombarding their rivals, and any spectators within reach, with copious flour and water bombs. Even the crew of one of the rescue boats looked like a snowman. As usual, very few crew members completed the course without managing to take a swim at times.

Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd and Rye’s Mayor, Shaun Rogers were escorted on the Harbour Master’s new boat by the Lions President, Malcolm McDonough in relative safety.

The fastest raft was from Atlas Business Park, with a time of 18 minutes 18 seconds, winning the trophy for first past the post. Second was a raft crewed by Rye Bonfire Boys, in a time of 18 minutes 48 seconds winning the trophy for a crew of under six, sponsored by The Mermaid Inn.


Third was a raft from Plumbline in 22 minutes 58 seconds and they won the trophy for a crew of six to ten and also the trophy for fancy dress. The fourth to finish was the regular raft from Lady Penelope Hairdressers in a time of 23 minutes 34 seconds and they were awarded the trophy for the last to finish unaided. The Standard Inn crew were fifth in 28 minutes 14 seconds, after receiving a tow, and won the trophy for the most unusual raft.

An entry from The Railway Inn, Appledore seemed to be so intent on trying to sabotage other rafts that they failed to complete the course.

Following the Race, engraved silver trophies were presented to class winners by Amber Rudd and Shaun Rogers. Rye Lions were also pleased this year to welcome the District Governor of the Southeast Lions, Phil Robinson. His area covers all of East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London south of the Thames. With his wife, Jackie, who happens to be the District Secretary, he also presented the trophies. All crew members were also presented with a certificate to prove they took part.

Rye Lions President, Malcolm McDonough, thanked Amber Rudd, Shaun Rogers, Phil Robinson, all who had competed, the stall holders and the public for their support, pointing out that all the money raised that day would go to various charities, many local. Special thanks for their continuing support was due to Rye Harbour Master, James Bateman, Assistant Harbour Master, Carl Bagwell MBE, Rye Harbour Marine for providing the safety boats, Ritchie McGowan and the other musicians, Jempsons Haulage for the use of their trailer for the bands and all the Lions, Friends of Lions and their families for all their help on the day.

More Winners
More Winners

Hastings & Rye MP, Amber Rudd presenting the trophy for First Past the Post to Atlas Business Park (picture by Conrad Freezer)

Atlas Business Park

In the mix – Flower bombs rain down as the crews fight their way towards the bridge. (Tony Coombes Photography)

We are the Champions

Rye Mayor, Shaun Rogers presented the trophy fot the most unusual raft to the ‘submariners’ of the Standard Inn. (picture by Conrad Freezer)

Raft Race Event Organisers - Rye Lions
Raft Race Event Organisers – Rye Lions

Lion South East District Councillor Phil Robinson and District Secretary Jackie Robinson with Bob Harvey (left) and Rye Lions President Malcolm McDonough (picture by Conrad Freezer)

“Rye’s Own” September 2012

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