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Photo Feature: River Mayhem Returns With The Annual Raft Race

Published on: 2 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

There was mayhem on the River Wey again this year for the annual raft race, back again after a break since 2019 due to Covid.

The Freddy Mercury Bohemian Raftsody team, complete with fake moustaches, capsized early on but with star-studded determination, they continued and came second last singing Don’t Stop Me Now to a roar from the crowd.

Guildford Lions Club joined forces with Zero Carbon Guildford and Surrey Care Trust to stage the popular event and set a theme of the jubilee and the environment.

The Scubadoo team from the British Sub-aqua Club Guildford powered past the Rowers for the Residents 4 Guildford & Villages at the start as they navigated into the undergrowth.

There were 10 entries and nine starts for the gruelling 2.5km event from Millmead to the Wey Kayak Club near the Rowbarge pub at Riverside, Bellfields..

The rafts varied from the sophisticated to the haphazard, from designs lashed together and from the river-worthy to downright leaky.

All along the route, the rafters were sprayed with water. Boys on the Town Bridge really got into the spirit.

Rebranded as The Big River Race, the event was generously sponsored by Enterprise Cars. Dave Kitching from the Guildford Lions Club said the race has been going for around 40 years. He said they had raised around £250,000 over that time. “The best year we raised £20,000 with the 60 rafts entered.”

“We will just about break even this year but that depends on how much each boat raises.”

Hannah Gilmour from Surrey Care Trust was delighted with the Duck Race. She said: “We are looking at raising around £1,500 which is fantastic.”

Duck Race winners were sisters Lexi and Thea Kattapuram with mum, Annie, dad Korah and dog Dartagnan. Prizes were a book token and sweets.

Paddle boards locked together were a novel entry this year. Look at the boys on the bridge above.

The Surrey Care Trust raft was a “lash up as we only decided to enter two hours ago,” said one of the intrepid rowers.

The Zero Carbon raft seemed to be taking the strain – just.

Clare Pitt and Lisa Dittmar decided to race for fun. Clare said: “We wanted to build a raft and here we are. It’s taken about three hours to build. They won the sustainability prise of £200 of goods from Zero Carbon and Solar Sisters zero waste shops.

There were raft race parties at some houses on the river route.

And the winners were Hook’s Wet Dream with a combined 72 stone and 234 years between them. “We’ve done it at least 23 times,” said team member Les Holdaway.

There were a few pirates marauding on the Wey.

The Scubadoo raft finished the 2.5km just about submerged. They won the best presented award from the Guildford Lions which was presented by the Mayor of Guildford.

The duck raft from the Surrey Care Trust finished first in the submarine class.

Rowers for Residents 4 Guildford & Villages cruised home but with some bruises from the unwanted water bombs from the river bank.

Rowing For Dossers team had man-over-board at the finish line. Did he jump or was he pushed?

Team Eurofins from the Surrey Research Park came a creditable last, finishing after about 90 minutes to an encouraging cheer from the crowd at the Wey Kayak Club.

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Responses to Photo Feature: River Mayhem Returns With The Annual Raft Race

  1. G Foster Reply

    July 3, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    A great event again, back after Covid, and supporting a good cause. We were in one of the gardens in the picture. So lovely to see that too. Well done to all who took part and those who organised it Here’s to 2023.

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