Two towns, 500 racers, a million laughs – one river of joy

Ouseday: Sun July 1 2018

REGATTA returns to the River Ouse on Sunday July 1 2018, an armada of daft rafts, racing kayaks, singing pirates, hornblowing boats and battling bonfire societies. 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. We considered ending the event after two rafters were injured last year by fireworks thrown from the riverbank – along with 20,000 eggs, some of them hard boiled, frozen tomatoes, ice cubes and even one metal ball hidden in a flour bomb. We had intended everyone to enjoy a day of fun, not surgery in hospital and months of pain. So, this year we will be banning fireworks and we will ask spectators to report anyone putting our 500 racers at risk with dangerous missiles.  From Malling Rec in Lewes to Huggets Green in Newhaven, we invite you all to throw your worries overboard, pull up a picnic and join the fun, free of charge. Money raised goes to local charities and good causes, including this year boating for the disabled. All you need to know about Ouseday will be published on this website. Enter the 43nd raft race if you dare – the 2018 theme is Rock the Boat, so let the music begin! Request an application form by email:  As Ratty might say: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so worth doing as messing about at Ouseday!


THANKS to you, our wonderful Ouseday supporters, cheques for £2,000 have been presented to the two main charities chosen for 2017. Round Table chairman Liam Jackson was delighted to present giant-sized cheques to Sarah Jarvis from Home Start East Sussex, which supports young families, and to Roger Ross, Loran Simon and Gavin Burke from A Band of Brothers (Abob) which mentors young men in crisis. Abob youngsters entered their own raft and mentors volunteered to help as marshals on the day. Organiser Gavin later thanked everyone in Ouseday. Speaking at the start of 2018, he said:  “A Band of Brothers is going from strength to strength with a Lewes group in the process of creation. The young men totally LOVED the experience with a couple saying that it was the best experience of their lives. Many said they would like to do it again in 2018. The funds will contribute to supporting the next wave of young men through their mentorship.” At Home Start, East Sussex chief executive Kate Lawrence said: “Thank you to all those who donated.  The donation has helped us to continue to deliver our two services – volunteer home-visiting to struggling families and reflective courses for women who have experienced domestic abuse. ” The charity, based in Newhaven, is currently looking for new premises. Many other charities benefited from sponsorship of the 28 individual rafts, including: Rockinghorse Appeal for Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton, RNLI, Ms Society, Martlets Hospice, Barnabas Hospice, Gaia Gallery environment project, DEBRA and Hospice in the Weald, Newhaven Mayor’s Charities, Lewes Action for Refugees, Cancer Research, and Bela Swan Colins, a 12 year old girl diagnosed with secondary lung cancer. Funds from the food fair at Malling helped fund the restoration of the traditional skiff Betty, which beat gig Amelie in the seven mile rowing race to the sea. Organisers have not yet chosen a main charity to benefit from Ouseday 2018 – watch this space.



RAFT RACE has raised £500,000 for local charities in the past 42 years. In 2017 the focus was on helping young people in need, providing support at critical moments and preventing short-term challenges becoming long-term disasters for individuals and society.

Find out more about Home Start at or become a Friend by contacting Kate, phone 01273 612025 or email

A Band of Brothers –  details at:


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 says: “We are delighted to be the main sponsor again. Last year Ouseday was a great family day out on the water for our beautiful town and it was good to see the sense of community and coming together that the event generated. We were 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.”  At Oakley: Giving Back

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.”

Enter 43rd Lewes-Newhaven Raft Race

7 + 15 =

Application details

: Sunday 1st July 2017 – Starts 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