Video: Lewes Raft Race returns

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Hundreds of people lined the banks of the River Ouse on Sunday when a much-loved event returned to local waters.

The 37th Lewes to Newhaven Raft Race, which raises thousands of pounds for charity, was warmly welcomed back after a year’s absence.

Lewes to Newhaven raft race 2013

Lewes to Newhaven raft race 2013

Nine crazy craft took their places at Lewes Rowing Club for the start of Lewes and District Round Table’s showpiece event.

The theme this year was ‘Music’ thanks to the Mumford & Sons weekend, so crews and rafts were suitably kitted-out and decorated.

Competitors included The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and a host of 1970s glam rock stars.

But the honours went to Grease Lightning, crewed by members of Firle Bonfire Society, which took first place after crossing the finishing line at Newhaven in a little under two hours. A truly impressive time.

There were casualties along the way as the rafts bombarded each other with flour and water, enthusiastically helped by spectators.

The craft of chartered accountants Knill James unfortunately barely made it beyond the start before its sailors were forced to abandon ship after developing a serious list.

And near the Newhaven finishing line, a bare six miles as the crow flies but a lot harder contending with the Ouse’s temperament and turns, the East Sussex Fire and Rescue entry actually sank. Fortunately no hands were lost.

Others honours went to Isfield Bonfire Society whose Yellow Submarine was judged the best decorated, and to Intersport of Lewes, for the most devious means of reaching the finishing line.

Raft race co-ordinator Matt Craig said: “There was a great turn-out of spectators, the weather was perfect and it was a memorable day for everyone involved.”

He particularly thanked Lewes Rowing Club and Sea Training Sussex for their help at the event.