Video & Gallery: Rain doesn't dampen Aquafest spirit

CROWDS still lined the course of the famous raft race at this year s Aquafest - despite a heavy downpour just minutes before the race. Heavy rain didn t deter many visitors to the event, which has been held in Ely on the first Sunday of July for the last

CROWDS still lined the course of the famous raft race at this year's Aquafest - despite a heavy downpour just minutes before the race.

Heavy rain didn't deter many visitors to the event, which has been held in Ely on the first Sunday of July for the last 26 years.

Thor Labs (Raft 13) was first in the raft race with a time of eight minutes and 25 seconds and second place went to Don 2 (Raft 3) who paddled the course in eight minutes 58 seconds.

Mayor of Ely, Cllr Sheila Friend-Smith judged The Clean Team entry as the 'Most Spectacular' for the race.


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The Ely Standard team earned fifth place overall from the 19 entries who paddled like crazy from Lavender Green to The Cutter and back in hand-made rafts.

"Taking part in the raft race is certainly harder than it looks," said Ely Standard reporter Catherine Atkinson, who paddled for the newspaper in the race.

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"We were all absolutely frozen cold afterwards, but it was a lot of fun at the same time."

Our raft - supplied by Denver Cruising Club and sponsored by The Lazy Otter restaurant, bar and marina on Cambridge Road, Stretham - managed to stay together for the finishing line.

Also taking part was a yellow Reliant Robin-themed design and a bath-style raft.

"I had family members visiting and they were impressed with the standards of the raft race entries," said Tony Brady, chairman of Aquafest.

"For this year's Aquafest, the committee wanted to keep everything local for the people of Ely; we stuck to local acts and lots of local people were taking part.

"And despite the bad weather, we were really impressed that the majority of people stayed for the whole event."

One raft participant had to be treated by St John's Ambulance crews when she was knocked-out with an object thrown during the race, it was revealed.

As well as the raft race, stalls and displays were set up on Lavender Green and Jubilee Gardens to keep families and visitors entertained throughout the day.

Star Radio - which sponsored the event alongside the Ely Standard - broadcasted live and kept everyone up-to-date with all the Aquafest goings-on.

Organised by Ely's two Rotary clubs, thousands of pounds was raised which will be donated to local charities by the clubs.

"It was wonderful to see so many local organisations, groups and charities taking part and holding stalls," said June Snowden, chairman of the Rotary Club of Ely-Hereward.

The club was responsible for events on Jubilee Gardens where more than 800 balloons were released in the Specsavers Balloon Race.

"I want to send out a massive 'thank you' to everyone who supported us and braved the cold and wet weather," she added.

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