Rye was awash with all things nautical last Sunday (September 9) with the annual Sea Festival and Raft Race.
The highly-entertaining, day-long event was held on The Strand. Seven entrants took to the water to enter the raft race.
Organiser Rebekah Gilbert says there was a highly charged competitive spirit between the front runners on their home made contraptions, adding: “In first place again was Skinners of Rye, with the Mermaid and Jenco Electrics just behind. Closely following them home were the Rye Retreat and a Rye Good Time. Unfortunately the wind got the better of Flobea and in particular The Crown who were pushed back under Monkbretton bridge at one stage, however, their elaborate raft decked up as a beer table complete with optics and parasols did win most fun raft for a second year running.”
The Rye Reteat raised £911 for local charity the Sara Lee Trust but are hoping to reach their target of £1,000. To donate call into the salon at 36-38 Cinque Ports Street.
Chairman of the Festival, Cllr Andi Rivett made the stunning wooden oar trophy and his company, Rock Channel Marine, sponsored the £100 first prize. He said: “It was a great event and we are so grateful to Skinners for donating their prize money to Simon Aylett’s swan song cycle to Italy to raise funds for pancreatic cancer, a very sporting gesture.
“We also thank very much Rye Shoes for their runner up sponsorship for the second prize.”
Town Crier and Rye mayor, Cllr Michael Boyd, led the procession along with the Ryebellion Drummers from the race along the High Street to The Strand, where rafters were presented with prizes and certificates. Rebekah said: “The Quayside looked stunning with bunting and flags, put up with the kind help of clients of Rock Channel Marine.
“The riverside was packed with stalls offering beautiful local gifts and produce and a number of charities raising funds.
“There were a few less boats this year as the exceptional high tide and warm weather meant many were out racing! But music flowed all day from The Rocket Men and visitors were well fed and watered by local food suppliers.
“The sea-themed Fancy Dress, sponsored by Rye’s Own, preceded Captain Pugwash Readings by the fabulous Town Crier, Paul Goring, in the Rye Heritage Centre, who also sponsored this years events.
“Towards the end of the day, the Tug of War competition took place. Alas not all teams were able to take part, but the winners, WS Wrights, pulled a punch and kindly donated their winnings, sponsored by Rye News online, to the festival to help fund next year’s event.”
Cllr Rivett says the Sea Festival would not take place without a great deal of local support.
“Firstly the committee who worked so tirelessly this year to bring the event about,” he said. “Neil Cunliffe, treasurer and health and safety officer, Sophie Crouch for the massive job of organising the Strand, Liz PenDennis’ fundraising (no mean task), Kirsty Doherty for marketing and her beautiful design work, Ian Gibson for his tireless work preparing and cleaning up the raft race site and the Strand, Cllr Cheryl Creaser for co-ordinating and Cllr Rebekah Gilbert admin and generally nagging us all into line!
“There are a lot of costs involved in this festival with its water connection so insurance and first aid comes at a considerable price.
“We are grateful to GMP Accountants and Douglas Rowe Finance as our main sponsors and to Rother District Council for support with road closures and use of car parks.
“We also thank Bournes, Sussex Community Foundation, and other town businesses.
“In addition thanks must go to the Harbour Master, James Bateman, Frank and Ed Langrish for allowing us to use their land for the raft race, Cllr Ian Potter and Town Hall Assistant Jessica Neame, Dave Kite, plus Colin Baker and team from the rotary for piloting the safety boats and John Gurney for lending his vessel.
“Finally a thank you to everyone who came and supported the event. It is very much a day for local people to celebrate being a coastal town and enjoying a family fun day out. If anyone would like to help with funding for next years festival please do get in touch with us.”
l Visit www.ryefestivalofthesea.co.uk for more information.