Prestigious George Raft race highlight of Plover Days

Published on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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This year’s eighth annual prestigious George Raft race, a paddling competition using rafts made from anything that floats, will be held this year on Saturday of the Plover Days weekend, August 1 and 2.

The mid-day event is always a highlight of the weekend, which this year also includes a sailing regatta and an extended visit by the tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain.

For those who want to compete now is the time to start collecting, and if you need material then race chairman Bob Knapp has what he called “a web locker full of discarded flotsam and jetsam” at your disposal.

The race is named after the American actor, Knapp said, because “In Cockney slang, having a ‘George Raft’ means having a laugh, so it seemed like a natural title, kind of a pun,” Knapp said, adding that a similar race on rafts made of scavenged material has been held on Devonshire’s River Lyn since the middle ages.

“People would throw vegetables at the competitors,” Knapp said, “but we don’t want to encourage that. We just want people to make themselves a raft and have some fun.” Knapp’s daughter Emma won two year ago. Last year’s winner was local sailor and Isetta driver Tommy Ryser.

There are few rules. One is that the competitors must be on a raft, not in an enclosed hull, that is, a boat. There is no limit as to how many can be on any given raft but all competitors must wear personal flotation devices.

The race gets underway at 1 p.m. at the Blaine Harbor boat launch ramp. Race registration and a 12:30 p.m. captain’s meeting will precede the start.

Racers will follow the same course as last year, proceeding westward from the launch and then north to the boardwalk and then west to the finish line under the ramp at gate two.

Interested competitors who want material or more information can contact Knapp at 360/332-3111 or 360/815-6899.