After the unsettled weather of the past few days today was gloriously sunny and stayed dry for the entire race (which caught me out - I was in the sun for all of an hour and got sunburnt!). The course was again a simple there-and-back - head up the creek (ideally with a paddle!) from the pub along the promenade, touch the wharf at the top, then paddle back down... into a blustery gale. Not all teams made it back to the start/finish line!
Rafters, get ready...
Go! First up were the reigning champions Rafty McRaftFace and the mafia-esque Kinetico
Followed by Dodgy Knees, who this year had scaled back on their pub raft
Rafty McRaftFace won their heat with ease. Next!
Out in front is I think Ebbs, being chased by the Nessie Hunters. Yes, the bright orange thing is technically a raft - it was built out of oil drums.
With what must be the Carisbrooke Buoys following behind
Carisbrooke Buoys ended up shedding rafters as they paddled along - who then tried to grab onto the opponent's rafts to slow them down!
Ebbs were too quick and so also went through to the final. Heat three had four entries, despite the confusion of the commentator
From near to far it's the Wallington Wallys, Dance Runway, Jet for Men, and bringing up the rear at the right-hand side are Below Average who kept veering off course
On the return journey, Below Average seemed to make better progress going backwards!
Wallington Wallys won that heat, and there's just one heat left
Leading here are Aqua-holics, followed by the Blazing Paddles
And paddling furiously are the Scania Scallywags
On the return leg Aqua-holics deployed smoke - it looked impressive, but didn't help them against the Blazing Paddles, or the maurading canoeists with water balloons
The Scallywags discovered a minor problem with their raft design: the truck front made an excellent sail, and they ended up having to be towed back to the start!
So: the final. We had returning champions Rafty McRaftFace, surprise substitue Carisbrooke Buoys (Ebbs having dropped out), and challengers Wallington Wallys and Blazing Paddles. And a plot twist: the winners would be the second raft over the line. Rafters, go!
In the best traditions of raft races, there was much skulduggery going on. Everyone clumped together at the finish line, trying to force other rafters across
Second-to-cross and so ultimately the winners were... Blazing Paddles!
Midway through one of the heats we got a bonus visitor - the LNER 61306 Mayflower!
It's not clear from the photos, but this train was travelling to the left and so heading in reverse!