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

  • 1:30 Boat Parade
  • 2:15 Boat Race
  • 2:30 Canoe Races
  • 3:00 Raft Race
3pm: 18 rafts decked out for the theme Rock the Boat are due to line up for 43rd annual Round Table charity raft race from lewes to Newhaven this Sunday, starting at high tide around 3pm by Wiley’s Bridge, Malling Recreation Ground, behind Tesco store in Lewes.
Spectators are being urged to Think Before They Throw, cutting back on the 20,000 raw eggs thrown last year in favour of jelly bombs made with plant-based agar. Better for the environment and less wasteful of food in a town with four food banks. BBC Masterchef winner 2006 Peter Bayless shows how to cook up the jelly bombs in a video on Ouseday.com, which has full event details.
1.30pm: World opera star ALLAN CLAYTON, lead tenor in new opera Hamlet which premiered at Glyndebourne Opera House 2017, will lead the boat parade which opens the regatta, at 1.30pm. He will be in pirate costume to join with the Wellington Wailers sea shanty singers, then step ashore at Malling Rec 2pm to lead young musicians from pop, rock, brass and classical in unique rendition of Sussex by the Sea, in protest at plans to cut all instrument lessons in East Sussex schools from September 2019.
Allan, who will be appearing at Glyndebourne later this month in Handel’s opera Saul, said: “It is a mistake to undervalue music in the school curriculum, it is education for the spirit and a joy that benefits all of us.”
The young musicians will be conducted by Jane Humberstone, National Education Union rep for East Sussex Music instrumental teachers. Jane says: “We are delighted to have such a huge talent and world star to lead our unique musical protest at Ouseday. Sussex by the Sea is a much loved song, and a traditional song of protest. Performing this with Allan will be a memorable musical experience for the youngsters and a treat for those listening.  We invite young musicians from across the county to come join in, whatever their music, with their instruments or just with their voices and their hearts. Hopefully we can make a sound that will be heard by those deciding on the cuts. See you all at Malling Rec at 2pm.
Other events at the regatta include a seven miles rowing race between crews in skiffs from Lewes versus crews in Cornish gigs from Newhaven. They will start at Wiley’s Bridge at around 2.15-2.30 pm. There will also be canoe races, and a food fair.
Ouseday magazine, on sale around town, includes for first time a raft race raffle. Each £3 copy carries a unique six digit number. If your number matches the hours, minutes and seconds time of the winning raft, you win £1,000 cash donated by Apollo Bookmakers. Result and how to claim at Ouseday.com after the race finishes on Sunday.
Ouseday is sponsored for second year by Oakley Property, main sponsor, and supported by Lawson Lewis Blakers solicitors.
Two rafters were injured by fireworks thrown from bank in 2017, one so badly that he has this week undergone a second operation on his knee and will be off work until 2019. This year no fireworks will be permitted on the riverbank or on the water.
Ouseday has previously ended with a sprint contest between the town’s bonfire societies but this will NOT take place this year. Bonfire societies have withdrawn due to previous bookings, difficulties assembling teams during the World Cup and because of some disappointment over the ban on fireworks
 A spokesman for organisers the Riffrafters group (formed by Lewes Rowing Club, Lewes and Newhaven town council reps and Newhaven Gig Club) said: “Cliffe Bonfire society will provide a smokey and dramatic spectacle to end the day but sadly other bonfire societies will now not be racing against them this year.  Decisions were taken after our magazine was printed, so we apologise for the error and hope spectators will forgive and not be too disappointed.
“We appreciate all the fantastic support of our bonfire societies and hopefully all will be back next time. Societies were not to blame for the reckless behaviour of a very few people throwing fireworks on the riverbank last year, but we must put safety of our rafters and spectators first. No fireworks or dangerous missiles of any kind will be tolerated, including ice, hard boiled eggs or anything similar. No missiles are condoned, but jelly is apparently the new favourite at regattas, they are high in splat, low on waste and on cost at 2p a bomb, and better for the dear old Ouse which we love and will celebrate together on Sunday. Jelly bombs could not be easier to make or more fun, just watch our Masterchef at Ouseday.com.”
With a heatwave forecast, rafters and spectators are urged to bring shade, hats and plenty of sun cream. It always feels cooler on or by the water, so everyone needs to take extra care.
Sponsor Chris Oakley, executive chairman of Oakley Property, said: “Lots to see, the weather forecast is amazing, so all are invited to come to this wonderful family event on the river, free of charge. Bring a picnic or tuck in to the food fair. We are proud and delighted to be supporting Ouseday and the community that has supported our business team for 25 terrific years.”
Money raised will go to local charities including two supporting young musicians, Martlets Music and Starfish Studios, both based in Lewes, and also to A Band of Brothers, which mentors young men who have been in crisis.