Sink or swim at Cromer raft race

Victoria LeggettIt was sink or swim for many of the competitors who took part in the revived Cromer raft race this weekend.The competition, which happened yesterday, is one of several former carnival activities being brought back this year to mark the 40th anniversary of the town's biggest event.Victoria Leggett

It was sink or swim for many of the competitors who took part in the revived Cromer raft race this weekend.

The competition, which happened yesterday, is one of several former carnival activities being brought back this year to mark the 40th anniversary of the town's biggest event.

Teams of four raced against the clock to see who could build a sea-worthy vessel, race her round a buoy, return to shore and dismantle their creation in the fastest time.

Last held about 20 years ago, the race was first run in 1971 and had a number of hairy moments - including a near disaster in 1985 when more than 400 people on 61 rafts had to be rounded up by the RNLI after gales made it unsafe.


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Organiser Tony Shipp said: 'It used to be great fun because of the problems people had making rafts that stayed together - quite often they disintegrated.'

Yesterday's 12 teams did not disappoint. While some groups showed they had paid attention during knot-tying lessons at Scouts, others could only throw themselves into the water and swim alongside as their barrels broke loose and threatened to float out to sea.

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A group calling themselves Ladyboys and Girl had no such problems.

Sitting on the beach dressed in women's clothing, Richard Bateman, 35, said they were confident as they light-heartedly discussed tactics ahead of the race. 'We're going to go for a catamaran-style raft for speed and stability,' he said.

But while other members Jo Bateman, Richard Bateman and Peter Skillen were simply hoping they would not sink, they finished in third place, completing the course in just over 25 minutes.

First place was won by US-UK in 21m 27s; The Amateurs came in second after 22m 40s and there were also prizes for the top two teams in fancy dress.

Anyone who would like to help out at this year's Cromer Carnival should attend the helpers' meeting on July 22 at The Cottage at 7.30pm.

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