The 26-th Annual Connecticut River Raft Race

The $1.79 raft gets a tow up to the starting line by one of the support boats plying the river on race day.  This vessel was of simple & sturdy construction. 6 Plastic 55 gallon barrels kept the wooden deck above water. A picnic table mounted on the deck provided ample sitting space to enjoy the race from while also providing shade for their well iced cooler of refreshing beverages.

On hand at the starting line was Rev. H. Brough Bailey, he offered took care of the blessing of the fleet and then followed the raft racers down to Dart Island. He travels in the world's smallest Zodiac inflatable boat. It is powered by a two horse Honda 4-stroke outboard and is well suited to raft race conditions.  Rumors of this boat being his bathtub toy have not yet been verified. 
Cheif Engineer Drew from The Big Johnson takes care of the peddling duties once the starting cannon fires. After he tires out the remaining crew takes turns on the bike until he is ready to get back on.  This peddle station has an exercise bike mounted on the deck that runs both a flywheel & a propeller. This provides for a very efficient and smooth propulsion system that maintains about a 3 knot headway speed. 
Here is the Fearless Fools coming into the finish area at Dart Island. These folks have special costumes complete with Viking hats, fur skivies, and various bull horn noisemakers. The front of their raft has a giant dragon's head that likes to eat discarded beverage containers. These guys really have a great time and its always neat to watch their antics at the finish line.
This is Malcolm Chapman's Horrendous raft used in the Sweeper Class. He usually plays Scottish bagpipe music at the start and later on at the finish line. This has come to be his calling card during the race and to many it brings back fond memories of past races & adventures. He also transports Otto's music & D.J. equipment down to the finish area so that everyone can enjoy some serious rock & roll tunes on the beaches of Dart Island
.The Miss Moon piloted by none other than our Race Committee President Bob Niland pulls in with the Kenyon in tow. This brand new entry into the raft race is from the proud little mill town of Kenyon, RI. These folks brought everything down to the launch late Friday night and spent eight hours putting her together at the launch. They were awarded the Committee's Choice Award for their super human efforts.
Here is a better view of the Kenyon raft. This vessel's main floatation was twenty or more 55 gallon steel barrels. The deck appeared to be made from pallets & patio decking complete with rails. The Captain's chair was a very finely polished toilet surrounded four movie house chairs reserved for the crew. A series of masts provided ample support for sail made out of a parachute. This made for quite a colorful display out on the river.
Heidi who is the Project Manager for The Big Johnson gets a little better aquinted with Richard from the Fearless Fools raft. Not to be out done his costume Heidi wore her seashell bikina top. Both these guys were real crowd pleasers down on Dart Island. Throughout the year Richard serves as the Treasurer for the Race Committee and Heidi manages Team Johnson. Both these guys really put in a lot of hard work while attending to their official duties. And on their days off both like to relax and he always gets quite silly on race day. 
Once the rafts starting coming across the finish line people began pulling out their super soaker guns and started getting the overheated competitors wetted down with cool water. This was a most welcome activity due to the high temperatures and hot sun. In the background is the Lynn Lee and her new reconstructed styrofoam pontoons.
Heidi proudly shows off her raft The Big Johnson. This year her and the crew tried their luck in the America Class and came through the finish in third place! High water, fast tidal currents, and some strong winds towards the finish gave her raft the added speed neccesary to finish with their best time ever. Heidi later commented, "It was nice to be part of the staggered start this year and to be able to see everyone and their rafts as we cruised down the river. We took our time, paced ourselves, and really enjoyed the river this year." 
 The beach at Dart Island filled in quickly as the rafts came across the finish line. Before long the crews were all on the beach socializing. Some were busy setting up the vollyball nets and getting teams together, while others got the grills fired up. Everyone was well behaved and chipped in a helping hand to get the party on the beach underway. It was like a huge family reunion. Many got back together with some old friends and the new rafters got to know us. And a good time was had by all.
One of the main activities on the beach was the Volley ball game. This is an activity that all the folks on Dart Island truely enjoy. Everyone got a chance to try their skills against fellow raft racers. The sand was moist from the high water and this made for some great moves. And not once did the ball land on the grill by the side of the court.  However, things did get a bit interesting when the tide came in. Before too long the entire beach was  underwater! Nobody seemed to mind this at all.  In fact it was a pretty cool concept. Everyone just kept on playing.  But a few of the competitors did mention that they were glad that the porta-potty was on higher ground. 
 Something new and wonderful this year was a restatement of vows between two of Malcolm's closest friends. He officiated the ceremony as Admiral in full dress. Someone was thoughtful enough to pick some purple wild flowers from the island and these she held as the vows were restated. The entire ceremony was recorded by NBC and will no doubt be aired in the weeks to come.
After all the rafts were in it was time for Bob to proclaim the winners and hand out the special awards. This is the Captain of the Kenyon raft receiving the Committee's choice award. This special award is new this year and goes to the raft that demonstrates a special committment to the race and best represents the "true spirit" of what the Connecticut River Raft Race is all about. In many ways this could be considered the top trophy of the day. Jonathan and his crew traveled here from the proud little mill town of Kenyon, RI.  He as his crew put in a huge effort to be at our event and was rightly rewarded for his heroic efforts.
 This Page Last Updated September 24, 2009

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