AN AQUATIC Robin Reliant stole the show at this year’s Rye Raft Race.
The raft, crewed by Woody Plant Hire, was a tribute to Only Fools and Horses and delighted the record crowd of several thousand who lined the river bank on Sunday.
A total of eleven rafts competed in the event with eight finishing the course.
Conrad Freezer, of Raft Race organisers Rye Lions, said: “The huge number of spectators lining the bank and the road bridge clapped with great enthusiasm the crew from the Ambrette Restaurant on each lap. The four man crew, whose raft seemed to have been constructed from a few planks on top of plastic blocks, capsized four times. After each capsize, the crew scrambled aboard to continue in the race.
“Rye Mayor Shaun Rogers, who presented the trophies, gamely helped to crew the raft from the Queens Head Inn and according to rumour ended up in the river.
“Crews and spectators had great fun in bombarding each other with copious quantities of flour and water bombs. All crew members were presented with a certificate which said they had survived the Race.
“After the heavy rain of the previous day, the weather was perfect and the Lions car park quickly filled with some 400 cars.
“The Lions are still finalising the total raised during the day, but they estimate that, including the raft sponsorship, a total of £8,000 was raised. “The majority of this will be donated over the year to local charities and good causes. The 72 page Raft Race programme was a complete sell-out and the Lions appreciate the over 80 local shops and companies that advertise in it.
“The overall winner was a raft crewed by a combined team from Lady Penelope Hairdressers and the Windmill Garage, Rolvenden who completed the course in 20 minutes 14 seconds, with their synchronised paddles flashing in the sun.
“Second was “The Good Ship Pritchard” crewed by Bournes in 21 minutes 44 seconds, winning the trophy for a crew of ten or more.
“The third raft to finish was from Atlas Industrial Park in a time of 23 minutes 55 seconds and they won the trophy for a crew of seven to nine. Fourth was Rye Bonfire Society in 24 minutes 30 seconds and fifth was Canton Marshall Arts in 26 minutes 38 seconds. The crew from the Queens Head, Rye, came in sixth in 30 minutes 15 seconds.
“Woody Plant Hire in their Reliant Robin car finished in 39 minutes dead and after paddling such a heavy craft seemed it. They also deservedly won the award for the Most Original Raft. The rafts “Another Logistical Nightmare”, the Bedford Arms and the Ambrette Restaurant did not manage to complete the 3 laps. However, the Bedford Arms won the trophy for Best Fancy Dress and Rye Lions decided the Ambrette Restaurant should receive a special award for their valiant efforts after so many capsizes.”