It was warm and wet!

PUBLISHED: 13:59 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:50 04 May 2010

Ely mayor John Ison and Ely Rotary Club president Mike Axford, with Steve Corkin, left, and Star Radio’s Mark Peters receiving their prizes.

Ely mayor John Ison and Ely Rotary Club president Mike Axford, with Steve Corkin, left, and Star Radio's Mark Peters receiving their prizes.

THOUSANDS of people packed the riverbank at Ely on Sunday for this year s Aquafest, which organisers have declared the most successful yet. Sixteen teams from across the district took part in the biggest raft race the event has witnessed as temperatures s

The Donarbon team before they sank!

THOUSANDS of people packed the riverbank at Ely on Sunday for this year's Aquafest, which organisers have declared the most successful yet.

Sixteen teams from across the district took part in the biggest raft race the event has witnessed as temperatures soared into the 80s.

This year's event introduced some new races, including a scout challenge, which saw local groups build their own rafts before racing them, and a Seagull race, in which boats raced a 25-minute circuit.

These events were followed by the main raft race, which left in four waves of four rafts, starting at 3pm.

Among the brave souls who took part was a team from the Ely Standard, whose four members managed to finish the course in a respectable 14 minutes.

Editor Debbie Davies said: "Aquafest was a fantastic community event with a great turnout."

"It was obvious to everyone who attended that the organisers had put a lot of effort into making the event a real success story for Ely."

She said the Standard team, which entered less than a fortnight before the event, wishes to thank Bridge Boat Yard for the loan of their buoyancy jackets, Shearline Engineering for constructing the raft, and SY Haulage, for its last minute help in getting the raft to the water's edge.

"We only decided to enter a few days beforehand, which meant it was all a bit of a rush. I would also like to say a big thank you to Star Radio who took pity on us and tipped us off that Shearline had a spare raft. We couldn't have done it without a fantastic effort from the all the companies involved."

David Lonsdale, sales manager at Shearline Engineering, said the raft was put together from waste and surplus materials by staff who contributed their own time to the project.

Shearline also had their own team in the race, which came third in the 'self-build' category.

Whiting and Brothers won the 'kit craft' category, and were followed by Whiting's Vikings in second place, and the Barry Celeste in third.

The 'self build' category was won by Cams Compressors, followed by CLS Ltd.

As well as the racing, visitors were treated to performances on Lavender Green from the Soham Majorettes, Wicken Youth Band, Feathers Dance Troupe School, as well as displays from the Cambridge MG Owners' Club and Cyril the Squirrel and his Racing Terriers.

At Jubilee Gardens, Ely mayor John Ison opened a show that featured Viva Youth Group, Garden Theatre Company, The Britney Show and local rock act Error 404.

Philip Eden, of the City of Ely Perspective group, said: "It was absolutely fantastic to see the hard work put in to extend the event pay off - people really felt that the extension into Jubilee Gardens added a whole new dimension to Aquafest."

"More people are taking part each year, and it's very encouraging for the Rotarians who put in so much work."

The event was organised by the Rotary Club of Ely, the Rotary Club of Ely Hereward and Star Radio, and Eric Grant of Ely Rotary said the event would not have been possible without the support of Allen's Skip Hire, Archer and Archer, Soham Carpet and Bedding Centre, 1st Call Hire, G's Marketing Ltd, Graham Barber Electrical Services Ltd, Grovemere Properties Ltd, BJ Jordan Building Contractors, MAC Construction Ltd, CJ Murfitt Ltd, M Rogerson Ltd, Whiting and Partners and Mr T's Taxi Services.

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