Cromer raft race revival
Carnival-goers will be making a splash at Cromer this weekend with the return of the raft race.Teams will be competing to build a sea-worthy vessel and race her round a buoy before returning to shore.
Carnival-goers will be making a splash at Cromer this weekend with the return of the raft race.
Teams will be competing to build a sea-worthy vessel and race her round a buoy before returning to shore.
And with prizes for fancy dress as well as the first three finishers, there could be a few motley crews turning up on Sunday.
'We're running it because it's the 40th anniversary of the carnival. We're reviving a lot of the old events,' said organiser Tony Shipp.
'It used to be great fun because of the problems people had making rafts that stayed together - quite often they disintegrated.'
The race was first run in 1971 as Cromer carnival's 'crazy boat and raft race', with teams competing to build and race their rafts from the Melbourne slope.
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Peter Burrows, carnival organiser and local historian, said: 'You used to have a limited time to assemble in on the beach and you went out to the buoy and back again. Everybody charged into the water and lots of them fell apart when they hit the first wave.'
This year's event is a return to the original format, with teams of two or four given four barrels, timber and ropes, and timed as they race to build their raft and row out to a buoy and back.
And carnival organisers have had to plan the race carefully to make sure it meets stringent health and safety guidelines set down by the insurers of the event.
Every participant will have to wear a life jacket and be able to swim fully clothed, and the coastguard and RNLI will be helping out with safety on the day.
After four or five years as part of the carnival, the race was taken over by Joe Burgess and became the Sheringham to Cromer raft race, a four-mile jaunt requiring racers to build their rafts beforehand.
'We used to work for Travis Perkins building merchants down in Cromer,' said Mr Burrows. 'One year we got blocks of polystyrene and strapped them together.
'Of course it wasn't going to sink but you try pushing blocks of polystyrene four miles through the sea. We got there in the end.'
Racers over the years included rugby players rowing an assortment of beer barrels and scaffolding, builders in baths and a police entry with a bicycle fixed on top of a float connected to paddles in the water.
But the event was not without its troubles - in 1985 more than 400 people on 61 rafts had to be rounded up by the RNLI and coastguard after gales hit during the race, injuring 13 people.
Cromer Raft Race and barbecue will take place on the east beach on Sunday at 2pm. There will be prizes for first, second and third place. Fancy dress is encouraged.