YOU didn’t have to be crewing a raft to get wet on Sunday at Deeping Raft Race, but it helped.
At least many riverbank spectators had umbrellas, where the competitors had only their high spirits to keep them going as they got soaked from above and below.
The combination of the greatest Olympic weekend ever for team GB and heavy showers cut numbers taking part and watching by around half, reckons chairman of the Raft Race Committee Kevin Barber.
He said: “We knew it was the Olympics, we knew the weather would be dodgy, but the raft race is always on the first weekend of August and we went for continuity.
“As it was the crowd (down from the usual 5,000 by about a half) and the competitors (just 25 rafts compared with the usual 40 to 50) were just brilliant.
“We haven’t yet counted up the takings from sponsorship and rattling buckets, which this year goes to different charities nominated by each of the crews, but we’re expecting to raise more than £3,000 net, considerably down on usual.
“Yet the race is great for the Deepings, great for the community and for local businesses and it’ll be here next year, unlike the Olympics!”
Warming up the crowd from 11am onwards were Heat FM’s presenter Kevin Lawrence, with lively demonstrations from Em’s Zumba and the MPSC Tang Soo Do martial arts group, led by father and daughter Andy and Hollie White, and stalls and stands from a range of charities and organisations.
This year’s winners were: Under-16s, Deeping Odin Scouts (time one hour seven minutes); Main Race, Weir Sunk, (14 minutes five seconds) a team of friends headed by Shaun Sinnott, who beat off fierce competition to come in second in the Fun Race which followed as well.
Fun Race winner was Acta Non Verba (24 minutes 22 seconds), also a team of friends, led by Jamie Gray; and the Pub Race winner was The Bell, Deeping St James (24 minutes 27 seconds).
Trophies will be presented by Raft Race sponsors Interact, the Deepings School Junior Rotary Club, The Boundary and Linfords fish and chip shops at the Raft Race Dance this Saturday.