Thursday, 21 October 2021

The daft raft race

NO one took it very seriously, which was just as well really.

NO one took it very seriously, which was just as well really.

The raft race at Hurley Regatta on Saturday was the last event of the day and meant to be a bit of fun.

Fifteen teams built rafts from pieces of wood and plastic barrels before taking to the water. Team names included, somewhat appropriately, Sink Or Swim and Up The Creek.

Many had dressed in matching outfits for the occasion, including one team of pirates and another wearing red wigs.

One raft failed to even make it off the start line and the crew ended up in the Thames. The rest made it to the finish, albeit they got a bit wet on the way.

Richard Burfitt, who organises the race, said: “It’s the end of the day and nobody minds too much if they get wet — and they all do.

“This year the start was a bit more orderly and it was quite a steady race but the teams do like to mess about at the end and board each other’s rafts and chuck water at each other using their paddles.”

His nephew Malcolm narrowly missed out on victory with his team, the Hurley Hayseeds, after they were pipped by the Barnicoats.

Mr Burfitt, 44, said: “We lost to a group of kids but they had a bit of an advantage because they weighed less — that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.”

The raft race was the last of more than 60 competitive events, watched by a crowd of about 1,000. Some of them were equally daft, such as the opening race in which teams had to row a bath down the river, or the one where entrants had to paddle a canoe while someone stood up in the boat and balanced a ball on an oar.

There was also “damsel in distress”, which involved women trying to jump into their saviour’s boat, and a tug of war — on the water.

Other, slightly more serious, races involved dragon boats, dinghies, canoes and kayaks.

The prizes were presented by Andrew Jenner, Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Spectators on the bank enjoyed picnics and barbecues and sheltered under gazebos and marquees when the showers came. Attractions off the water included dog racing, face-painting, a fun fair, train rides, a children’s entertainer and an egg-throwing contest.

The School of Oriental and African Studies’ Ceilidh band performed during the lunch break and early evening and Irish folk singer Steve Carroll performed later.

Regatta chairman Martin Fry said there was a good atmosphere.

He said: “We had half an hour’s drizzle and it wasn’t particularly warm but we have a number of competitors who come whatever the weather. It was a good day overall.”

The 41st annual regatta was in aid of the Sequela Foundation, a charity that supports people with neurological conditions. The amount raised is still to be finalised.

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