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

Cliffe Bonfire finale

BONFIRE societies will NOT do battle this year for the coveted Dash Trophy, but holders Cliffe will be proudly bringing up the rearguard of the raft race and keeping a watch out for pirates.

Ouseday had six societies racing last year and it made for a fine spectacle. But sadly two rafters were injured by fireworks thrown from the riverbank during the regatta. One rafter in the main Round Table charity raft race to Newhaven was so badly injured by a banger that exploded by his knee that he was off work for months, and only recently (July 2018) he underwent a second operation which means he will be off work again until 2019. Ouseday organisers The Riffrafters group were horrified by the incidents and consulted with local authority experts and the police to see what action should be taken this year. We considered cancelling the whole event, but that meant all the good of regatta and the raft race – including money raised for the charities – would be lost, because of the reckless behaviour of a very small minority. We decided to go ahead this year but only if all fireworks were barred from the water, not because we blame the societies at all (they were as outraged as anyone) but because we cannot let anyone claim they have any kind of excuse for throwing fireworks, or any other kind of dangerous missile such as ice, hard boiled eggs or metal balls.

We have strengthened our army of stewards and we are delighted to say police will be attending to support the community. Sorry to those Bonfire crews who feel disappointed they are unable to have any bangs on the water, we are too, but Ouseday is not Bonfire Night and we must put safety first for the rafters and spectators.

Some societies were unable to take part because of other commitments and clashes, and late problems getting the rafts together in time – they hope to line up again next year. Thank you to all for the fab support, SSBS: Southover, CSBS, Waterloo and especially to Jason Winter and his crew at Borough, who won the first two years.

Cliffe Bonfire will provide a colourful and smokey finale for this year’s event, so give a loud cheer to skipper Steve Mockford and his crew of diehards.


Raft Design & Construction

  • Each raft must be home-made and must be foot or hand propelled.
  • Rafts shall have positive buoyancy and not exceed 750 kg Note the raft should be able to be lifted and carried a minimum of 20 metres and launched by the crew / and or their support team
  • Rafts should have a minimum of 6 handles mounted strategically inboard of the vessel for ease of carrying rafts into and out of the water
  • If using polystyrene, expanding foam or any other material potentially liable to disintegration, for buoyancy, these must be contained such that they will not cause a pollution / contamination hazard in the river.
  • If using oil drums or similar barrels / containers previously used for the storage of potentially hazardous or toxic substances, it is imperative that these are thoroughly rinsed out prior to use
  • Minimum beam of each raft to be one third of length of main hull.
  • On mono hull rafts with outriggers, the length of the outriggers must exceed two thirds of the overall length of the raft.
  • IMPORTANT – Due to height restrictions at Cliffe Bridge – the maximum height of the raft from base of hull (including any mast / flag’s etc) should not exceed 6ft 6” (198 cm).
  • Raft crews must be able to escape quickly from a raft which capsizes. No crew member is permitted to be totally enclosed in any structure, net or canopy on a raft.
  • Each raft must have a strong point to tow from and be equipped with a minimum of 8 metres of strong rope, one end of which is to be attached to the raft, the other end to be buoyed. Please try to create a ‘point’ at the front of the raft to improve its mobility in the water – this will help should you need to be towed by the safety boat.
  • Rafts shall arrive ready for launching. No finishing of rafts will be allowed on the launching slipways or in the vicinity of the Lewes launching point.
  • Each raft must have one red danger flag to be used in emergencies or difficulties.
  • All rafts must display their allocated number and be named. Raft numbers shall be clearly displayed and in black figures at least 250mm high on a white background and visible from front, back and sides.
  • Sponsoring firms will be permitted to advertise on their rafts
  • No raft is to carry or ignite any flammable objects, fireworks or distress flares etc.
  • The Umpire and Scrutineer and their respective deputies shall be appointed by Lewes & District Round Table. All decisions regarding the rafts, the regulations and the interpretation thereof, and all other matters relating to the Raft Race and conduct thereof, shall be made by the Umpire and Scrutineer (or in default by his deputy) in his absolute discretion and his decision shall be final.  If a raft is found to be unseaworthy it shall not be allowed to enter the water or take part in the race.  Whilst every precaution is taken to ensure the safety and good conduct of the Raft Race event, the organisers accept no liability in respect of injury or damage howsoever caused and this is a condition of entry into this event.
  • Only rafts participating in the race and having duly followed the entry criteria will be permitted onto the Lewes start.
  • On arrival at the Lewes launching site rafts must be offloaded and vehicles removed to the special lorry park at Newhaven. Drivers must be with their vehicles when rafts are recovered.
  • At the finish, all rafts must be removed from the Newhaven Marina Slipway and loaded onto their transporting vehicles without delay. Stewards and/or Police instructions must be adhered to.

On no account shall any participant in the race throw any water, eggs or missile of any sort at spectators or boats, whether or not the latter are involved in the event.  This includes the safety boat.

Enter raft race

12 + 8 =

Application details

: Sunday 1st July 2018 – Starts tbc (subject to tide)
Where: Raft race starts from Malling Rec in Lewes (by Tesco’s) and finishes at Newhaven Marina
How: Build and decorate a raft that floats and fits under bridges.
Why: To have fun and raise money for a good cause of your choice
Theme: Musical – Rock the Boat

Application Entry deadline 1st  May 2018


Download the Application pack here