How the raft race began
Back in the day when there were no rules
The first Antibes Raft Race was organised by Julian Mills in 1981, and the first memorable race took place without the "committee" having the foresight to obtain permission from Port Vauban. The Port Captain, Mr Plym, took it in his stride and later attended the evening bash with a view to lodging a complaint, but finished up presenting the prizes, what a good sport!
MY 'CARAMBA' won the first race - their own 'Caramba Cup' sat around various bars in Antibes for some years. The owner of "M/Y CARAMBA" later purchased a high-quality replacement cup which became the coveted top award for the winning raft.
During the 80's the finish line was at Harry's Bar in rue Aubernon, which stopped the traffic for some hours. Everyone, Antibes Police included, attended and joined in the fun.
The charities’ official beginning
Following a gap of a few years, the race was resurrected by Gary Morton (pictured right) and a new committee roped in to help plan this crazy day. Gary attended to the proper creation and registration with the prefecture, to create an official non-profit-making Association, and thus the official Antibes Raft Race Association was born.
The course and the few rules were continually changed, often at the last moment, but the fun and the community spirit never failed.
The distinguished and the cheaters of the Nineties
The Raft Races’ official motto is ‘’Who cares who wins’’ but the competition is still fierce with all vying for one of our coveted awards; ‘’The Biggest Cheater’’, ‘’Raft most in need of a refit’’, ‘’Total incompetence in rafting’’ and ‘’Most entertaining behaviour’’ are just a few of them.
Many rafts have distinguished themselves over the years and there has been much hilarity. One of the more memorable was the 1994 raft from "SIRAN" who came to collect their winning award, and during their acceptance speech announced ‘’We would like to thank our sponsors, Yamaha…..’’ and thus it was discovered the winners were infact motorized cheaters. There have been others who have attempted to cheat but the judges have become pretty savvy over the years.
Russell Lunt, an original committee member of the Raft Race Association, entered a raft during the 90s on behalf of his company. THE LUNT PUNT OF THE MONTH won an award for 'Total Incompetence in Rafting'.
The 1996 race was a fantastically attended event and those who were there are still talking about it - we also donated some FF 90,000 (around €13,700) to charity. One of the highlights of the 1996 RaftRace was the very fast COW SHED RAFT - which managed a couple of circuits of the Course before joining the other rafts in a photo-finish. Later scrutinising revealed the Cow Shed was sneakily powered by a jetski - so an obvious candidate for the 'Best Cheat' award.
From the Nineties to the Noughties
The 2002 Antibes Raft Race took place on Saturday 4th May. With a memorable display of theatre and Raftsmanship - the crew of "CALIXE" took the Caramba Cup for the Winning Raft and the Peter Filer Memorial Cup for the Most Entertaining Behaviour with their raft "FLINTSTONES".
Over a thousand Raft Race Aficionados crowded the International Yacht Club d'Antibes and Port Vauban to witness the brave Raft Racers on a final total of 22 Rafts as they took to the water (literally in most cases).
Early morning rain gave way to bright sunshine for the Raft Race. Jean Allier's Raft 'OL' MAN RIVER' joined in the mid-course water fight and managed to sink a number of other Rafts and then waltzed home with the Chris Allix Cup for Total Incompetence in Rafting.
Other winners included D.S. Maritime's "JUNGLE WARRIORS", the Peter Bryant Cup for the Raft most in need of Refit went to ‘’AMADEUS" with their late entry Raft, and the coveted David Skellon Award for the Biggest Cheat was scooped by Alain Galet from Biot with his Raft "HAWAIIAN BOOZIE ROKKET No. 1".
Matt Callaway from S.Y. "ALTAIR" took the Feadship Trophy for Best Raft with his entry "FIFE CASTAWAYS", and Paul Hussein on "PREZENS - THE BOOGY RAFT" took the Pinmar Cup for the Best Painted Raft.
Trophies were presented at the Evening PIRATE PARTY which was an outstanding success with hundreds of Pirates and Raft Racers dancing the night through.
The last race….until now
The 2012 Antibes Raft Race was held in IYCA / Port Vauban on Saturday 21st April. Over 1000 Raft Race Fans turned out to watch 22 Rafts battle their way across the Port. Weather was bright sunshine with a cross wind of some 20 knots - making Raft Racing even more entertaining to the spectators.
Overall winner was "BANANA RAFT", with "TEAM BIG FISH" a very close second, and "SPANDEX SUPER HEROS" skippered by Raft Race veteran and Raft Race Association President Gary Morton a very respectable third place.
The coveted award for the Biggest Cheat was won by "KNIGHT RIDER MEETS THE QUEEN" whose Raft (it was discovered on final scrutinising) was powered by two electric motors !
Against strong competition, "THE QUAYS" Raft - which disintegrated shortly after the start (pictured right) was an obvious winner of the Chris Allix Cup for Total Incompetence in Rafting. "THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN" Raft was winner of LNC's Award for the Best Engineered Raft.
The evening party remembered the RMS TITANIC which sunk in 1912, 100 years before our 2012 Raft Race. To commemorate this event our evening 'bash' was a 'TITANIC' Fancy Dress Party.