The Raft Race, run by the St Ives Pilot Gig Club, has become one of the most popular highlights of the St Ives Summer Events Calendar. Run on the 30th of August this year, due to bad weather postponing the original date, tradition has it that local businesses, groups, teams and whoever fancies it really, converge on the Harbour one Friday evening with their theme based watercraft and hardy crews ready to do battle and rescue their mermaid from marauding pirates.
It is all very civil as the fancy dress is judged, while crews ready themselves for an epic dash from the slipway to Smeatons Pier. Whereupon they resuce their Mermaid and return her to the slip and victory. Following a brief introduction the cry “MAN YOUR PADDLES” is shouted and all hell lets lose. The St. Ives raft race really is the perfect place to get your annual dose of carnage!
Several members of the Ocean Sports Club, being folk of the sea, had managed to cobble together a jungle themed out-rigger raft. Crewed by a motley gang of 7 parrots, and captained by Hattie. The Parrots of the Caribbean an eclectic mix of club members and willing/gullible/handy partners, made short work of the initial outward leg, as you would expect of such a seaworthy crew. And you would also expect this to be followed by a swift and efficient rescue of their mermaid, and home to a resounding victory – sadly this was not to be…
The St Ives Pilot Gig Club use this event as a fund raiser and they raise money by selling very reasonably priced flour bombs to the watching crowd. These are then used to pelt the competitors as they paddle across the harbour below them. This proved too much for the Ocean Sports helms-man who, in the carnage, lost sight of pretty much everything and ended up tangling the raft in some mooring ropes, almost capsizing and losing several members of the crew.
Luckily the crew are hardy folk and a little dip in the ocean won’t dampen their spirits. After regaining control, gathering everyone up including the mermaid the crew struck out for home and a rather humbling 6th place
However, all was not lost as the The Parrots of the Caribbean impressed the judges enough to walk away with the best fancy dress – and there is always next year! Fancy dress ideas and any willing crew members please apply nice and early as we will be going for 5th next year!
Thank you goes to the St Ives Pilot Gig Club for putting on the event and the RNLI for their ever reassuring presence as well as everyone else who took part in the event both off and on the water…. See you next year!