THE sun shone on a record crowd at the annual Rye Raft Race and Fête on Sunday.
Organisers Rye Lions are still counting up the money raised for charity but it is expected to exceed £6,500.
People lined the river bank and packed onto the Salts. The event has been heralded a huge success despite a fall in the number of rafts entering this year.
Conrad Freezer, from Rye Lions, said: “Richie McGowan, together with several other musicians and bands played throughout the afternoon to the great delight of the public who sat on the grass, or were picnicking and dancing to the music.
“We were a little disappointed at a smaller entry of rafts this year and are already planning how to bring the number up to the usual level for next year. However, those stalwarts competing completed the three laps of the course following the start signal on the klaxon, whilst bombarding their rivals, and any spectators within reach, with copious flour and water bombs.
“Even the crew of one of the rescue boats looked like a snowman. As usual, very few crew members completed the course without managing to take a swim at times.”
Rye MP, Amber Rudd and Rye’s Mayor, Shaun Rogers were escorted on the Harbour Master’s new boat by the Lions President, Malcolm McDonough in relative safety.
The fastest raft was from Atlas Business Park, with a time of 18 minutes 18 seconds, winning the trophy for first past the post. Second was a raft crewed by Rye Bonfire Boys, in a time of 18 minutes 48 seconds winning the trophy for a crew of under six, sponsored by The Mermaid Inn.
Third was a raft from Plumbline in 22 minutes 58 seconds and they won the trophy for a crew of six to ten and also the trophy for fancy dress. The fourth to finish was the regular raft from Lady Penelope Hairdressers in a time of 23 minutes 34 seconds and they were awarded the trophy for the last to finish unaided. The Standard Inn crew were fifth in 28 minutes 14 seconds, after receiving a tow, and won the trophy for the most unusual raft.
An entry from The Railway Inn, Appledore seemed to be so intent on trying to sabotage other rafts that they failed to complete the course.
Following the Race, engraved silver trophies were presented to class winners by Amber Rudd and Shaun Rogers. Rye All crew members were also presented with a certificate to prove they took part.
Mr Freezer said: “Special thanks for their continuing support was due to Rye Harbour Master, James Bateman, Assistant Harbour Master, Carl Bagwell MBE, Rye Harbour Marine for providing the safety boats, Ritchie McGowan and the other musicians, Jempsons Haulage for the use of their trailer for the bands and all the Lions, Friends of Lions and their families for all their help on the day.”