It’s a record breaking year for entries to this year’s Rye Raft Race as the ‘small raft’ division spawns a new generation of have-a-goers. The race now in its 34th year draws 5000 spectators who line the banks of the river to watch. Two-lads-on-a-barrel constitutes a team as far as small craft go as these must be crewed by 6 or less. It’s a fierce competition in which you must not only produce a vessel and wear silly clothes but be prepared to be pelted with flour and water for the duration of the 40 minute competition. All the teams raise sponsorship and there can be any number of people taking part on rafts which can be manned by crews as large as you like!
There are five trophies to be won this Sunday (5th August 2012) including one for small, medium and large crews as well as for best fancy dress and most unusual raft. The event starts at 2pm by which time spectators should be in situ and armed with home made flour bombs and water pouches which they hurl as the rafts pass by three times up and down the quarter mile stretch of the tidal river. The race usually lasts 20- 40 minutes depending on the tide, wind and competition.
In addition to the race, entirely free to spectators and very visible from the East bank downstream from the A259 road bridge, there is a fete involving bouncy castles and the like. Not that one needs an excuse to visit Rye, one of the most beautiful villages of the South Coast of England where cobblestones, cream teas, bookshops and photo opportunities ensure that all the senses are thoroughly satisfied.
Picture thanks to Tony Coombes