1 river, 2 towns, 500 rafters –  Rock the Boat and save the music

Ouseday magazine

YOU CAN WIN £1,000 when you buy our Ouseday magazine, price £3, with its unique number indicating the time of the winning raft. Closest to the time wins £1,000.

The winning raft was HMS Sinkalot with a time of 01:58:29

We have a winner!

Pictured is Ken Nishimura winner of the Raft Race Raffle pictured with his program with the time just 2 seconds out from the winning time .


Rock the Boat – main event

BONFIRE: Cliffe rearguard

Bonfire fiery finale

FOOD FAIR: All day

Eggs and so much more!

Ouseday: Sun July 1 2018

REGATTA returns to the River Ouse this Sunday July 1 2018, an armada of daft rafts, racing kayaks, singing pirates, hornblowing boats and cheering spectators. PLUS our thrilling seven-mile rowing race that pitches Lewes versus Newhaven. Ahoy a dishabill of joy, named OUSEDAY!
This is our fourth regatta, built around the Lewes to Newhaven Round Table Raft Race.  This year the theme is Rock the Boat and for the first time you can be a raft race winner by scooping £1,000 in a new raffle, sampling by buying an Ouseday magazine. Someone will win – it could be Youse! All of you are invited to join us at Malling Recreation Ground, Lewes, from 1.30pm. Entrance is free of charge, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors including Oakley Property. Money raised from the raft race will go to help local young people this year. We will support two musical groups, Martlets Music and Starfish Studios, following the shocking news that instrument lessons will end under cuts proposed in East Sussex schools next year. Young musicians get their own chance to make themselves heard with a unique musical protest at the start of the regatta at Malling at around 2pm – you will not want to miss this as it is led by the world’s hottest young opera tenor, Allan Clayton, who starred in Hamlet at Glyndebourne! We will also again be supporting the young through A Band of Brothers (see below) and the Ouse Heritage Fund, which has been hugely successful in bringing back  traditional row boats on the Ouse. All you need to know about Ouseday is published on this website, including how to help the environment by swapping eggs for jelly bombs this year – see below. The Ouseday magazine is on sale around Lewes already and you will want to make sure you get a copy now, or at Ouseday on Sunday.    As Ratty might say: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so worth doing as messing about at Ouseday!


Eggs and flour bombs traditionally have speeded rafters on their way to Newhaven, but they are not great for the environment and 20,000 eggs is a terrible waste of food in a town with four food banks. Flour bombs using bags containing plastic can do dreadful harm to wildlife. We set out to celebrate our Ouse, not harm it. So we have asked Masterchef winner Peter Bayless and local environment groups to help with Operation Breggsit – farewell eggs and hello jello! Plastic Free Lewes found a recipe using plant-based products for the jelly, and 2006 BBC Masterchef champion Peter came along to the Community Kitchen to show how easy it is for you to make your own wonderfully splatty jelly bombs at home – even better, they cost only 2p each so are much cheaper than eggs. To watch the video just follow this link:

As the number of rafts and spectators has grown in recent years, the barrage of missiles has begun to pose a threat to the cleanliness of the river, the health of the wildlife that lives in it and the safety of the rafters themselves.

The number of eggs rained down on the race last year was not just a waste of good food, but bad for the environment too. Plastic bags containing flour add to the growing menace of plastic pollution and pose a hazard to birds. Rubber balloons can be fatally attractive to fish.

And no one would condone the throwing of dangerous hard objects or fireworks. Two people were hurt by thrown fireworks last year, one so badly that he has only recently had a second operation in hospital and will be off work until 2019. This year we have barred all fireworks and will have stewards on the look out for anyone behaving dangerously – and police will be in attendance.

Ouseday organisers, the Riffrafters group (formed by representatives from local boats clubs, Round Table and town councils) also teamed up with environment groups including  Plastic Free Lewes, Litter Free Lewes, Surfers Against Sewage and Transition Town Lewes as well as Lewes Foodbanks – we are asking spectators to do the following:

  • Flour bombs: swap plastic bags for paper bags.
  • Water bombs: instead of using rubber balloons make bombs out of agar jelly. Watch the Masterchef video above to see recipe, it could not be easier.
  • Eggs: donate some eggs to the Lewes Foodbanks stand on Malling Rec so they can be distributed to those who really need them.
  • Leave hard objects at home.
  • Take your rubbish away and help us clean up the riverbank and the river itself afterwards.
  • Visit the Plastic Free Lewes stand to learn more about how to reduce plastic waste. The stand will be on the riverbank at Malling Rec on Ouseday, behind Tesco. See you there.



OUSEDAY is fun for all, free of charge thanks to the generosity of local firms who pay costs for essential items such as insurance, communications and vital safety equipment. For the second year running, our main sponsor is Oakley Property where chairman Chris Oakley and his team are celebrating their 25 anniversary. Chris says: “We are delighted to be the main sponsor again. Ouseday is a great family day out on the water for our beautiful town. We are proud to be part of this and jumped at the chance to sponsor again and give something back to the town that supports our business.”   Oakley: 25 team years

Also supporting us again are Lawson Lewis Blakers Ltd solicitors – and we received a fantastic £5,000 grant from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. At LLB, a spokesman for the solicitors said: “We are delighted to support this special event for the second year running.”

Martlets Music is local charity which helps young people in East Sussex progress and develop their musical talents.

We do this in a variety of ways: by partnering with local organisations to offer joint activities such as summer schools, events and concerts and through bursaries which fund all types of musical education and support teaching for minority instruments.

With partners such as East Sussex Music, Glyndebourne and The Arts Council, we support a diverse range of music making events, workshops and summer schools. Over the past year, we’ve helped 100s of children from pre-schoolers to 18 yearolds; enabling them to take part in a huge range of activities from orchestras and choral workshops to instrument taster sessions and rock, rap and jazz fusion sessions.

In addition to supporting our partners’ events, we offer bursaries to young people living or studying in East Sussex.

Starfish Youth Music aims to help young people find their own musical voice, and give them confidence in their own creativity. Within the setting of the band-practice, our members explore writing songs and jamming, encouraging them to communicate ideas, share skills, and make decisions for themselves.

The members create the music. Experienced staff work to help this happen. Its all about doing your own thing and helping others, raising the roof, laying foundations for life. Starfish is based on a series of long or short term programmes (Juniors/Seniors/Adults) from beginners to competent gigging bands, with many of our members coming back to tutor the younger bands. Starfish puts on at least 5 big gigs a year, raising money for the club and sometimes for others as well. We also work with community groups and other organisations to provide music making events and workshops throughout the


Enter 43rd Lewes-Newhaven Raft Race

1 + 2 =

Application details

: Sunday 1st July 2018– Starts 3.45pm after high tide
Where: Starts Wiley’s Bridge at Malling Rec, Lewes
How: Request application pack, build raft, follow rules
Why: Have fun and help a good cause
Theme: Music – Rock the Boat 

Application Entry deadline: Send email inquiry asap  

Download the Application pack here