Fowey Royal Regatta Raft Race


Blog by Rob Thompson

“Are we about to launch the winning raft, or a new artificial reef?” was the burning question on the slipway as we prepared to launch. It’s nice to know my teammates have such confidence in my engineering abilities. Although, in fairness to them, there were certain facts that I had kept to myself, making their concerns not wholly unfounded. Primarily, that the lids on the barrels which were going to keep us afloat, were poorly fitting and my previous attempts to remedy the problem had been unsuccessful, causing a bit of sinkage. Hoping to avoid a mutiny before even getting in the water, I had one last attempt at stopping the leaks and decided some things were best not shared with the crew.

I did have a slight concern that, in a horrible twist of irony, our next Dive Against Debris would be to retrieve our raft, designed to highlight the Marine Debris problem. The raft was decorated with various finds from our debris dives and it may have been a tad embarrassing if they ended up on the riverbed attached to my raft. However, I’d done all I could; we were now committed and sailed on optimism alone. At first, we appeared to be floating and the raft was holding together nicely. Although, we were late and drifting in the wrong direction away from the start line and towards the path of the car ferry! Luckily, a boat seeing our plight offered us a tow to the start line and we made it with no time to spare.

The other rafts looked amazing and we started next to a floating circus! The horn blew and like lightning we sprung into action, taking the most convoluted, zig zagging, route possible. Although our seamanship skills do not stretch to navigational control; by some bizarre twist of fate, our ramshackle band of deluded optimists and ever so slightly leaky raft, WON! The return journey to the slipway took a lot, lot longer. I have to say that my crew consisted of the most unruly, undisciplined, bunch of unsavory rogues upon the seven seas. As even though we had won, they still decided it was the perfect opportunity for a good old mutiny. Lead by Clare (I had a bad feeling about that one), they proceeded to try and sink my raft and drown one another. Eventually though, we made it back to the slip, without creating a new artificial reef, regardless of everyone’s best efforts.

No sooner had we landed, was there enthusiastic talk about next year’s race. With new creative additions to the raft suggested, discussions about trying to get other marine groups along to help save the ever dwindling raft race and creating a marine conservation flotilla. Apparently, we’re all going dressed as sea creatures in next year’s race too! Lizi was very excited at the prospect of getting to dress as a jellyfish (a bit of a lifelong ambition); clearly she had put a lot of thought into costume design and was just waiting for the perfect opportunity. So keep an eye out next year for that, as well as watching our video of this year’s event here:

Raft Race Video

Video courtesy of Tom Turner @ Paramore Productions