FAQ

Here is a selection of FAQs which might answer some of your queries. If you do not see the answer you seek then please do not hesitate to contact us.

At the finish

What happens to our raft at the finish?

After you hear a klaxon which says you have finished the race keep paddling for about 100 metres and you will be summoned to the bank to disembark. At this point you will need to be able to remove your raft from the river and carry it to your raft transportation vehicle. This is a distance of 150 metres plus so it is imperative that your raft weighs as little as possible. We shall try to obtain some volunteers to assist you but you must not reply upon this. You have the responsibility to remove your raft from the recreation ground on the race day.

If you wish you can set up a BBQ or have a social with friends and family on the grass but we would ask you to leave it as you found it. We are not allowed to sell food or refreshments on the recreation ground so the BBQ we operate is just to keep the safety crews fed and watered.

Please feel free to explore the rec. as our charity will have some displays/games etc. which might be of interest.

At the start

Our raft is in sections. Where can we assemble it?

Many rafts come to the start in sections and need to be assembled.  There is plenty of room and, if you arrive early enough, plenty of time to do this. We do not have any sources of electrics or similar so you need to bring your own tools.

Since we entered one of our crew has changed.

This is not a problem.  When you arrive you need to register your presence and this includes advising the race officials of any changes to your crew.  Provided that the new crew member has signed the disclaimer then he is good to go.

What facilities are at the start?

Our facilities are a little basic but extremely welcome!  There are two mobile toilets which get very busy about 15 minutes from the start, and we have a field kitchen from which we sell bacon, eggs and/or sausages in batches plus tea/coffee and soft drinks.  The smell of the bacon cooking drifting over the field is intoxicating so don’t hang back if you are peckish and it is always a good idea to take on some fuel before you start.

Where can our supporters park at the start?

All non raft transport traffic is directed through Wasperton to a separate entrance to the start field. There, you can park for as long as you wish and although there is no charge, a small ‘honesty box’ type donation would be appreciated. The gates are closed around 6pm so you need to have departed by then,

Will we set off at our given start time?

We allocate a theoretical start time based upon when your raft entry is accepted for the race. Therefore, if your time is 09:10, and provided the F1 teams have gone and you have arrived in time to be queued for launching, then you may well depart on time. When we have 60+ rafts wanting to get into the water we are not going to be too worried if they are all in the order of their allocated times. However, your given time does not have to be adhered to as rafts will line up for launching on a first come first served basis. In other words, please arrive in plenty of time and you will be queued in the order that you arrived at the start.

Charity/sponsorship

What are the criteria used to select each year’s charity?

There are a few criteria. Primarily, the charity must be one that many people can identify with through its aims and work. It has to be able to contribute to the event with quality PR, some small administrative expenses, corporate connections and sponsorship, and promote its name all day on race day. This promotion can include tee shirts given to rafters, a celebrity patron, exhibitions or demonstrations of its work at the finish field and generally raising the profile of itself and the race. However, the overriding quality we look for is for the passion the charity fund raisers have for their cause – this can really make a big difference to the overall amount donated.

Why do we have to raise sponsorship money when we have already paid to enter the race?

The entry fee is used to pay for the running costs of the race. It costs around £3000 to put on the race and we have to pay for the services of all of the safety and medical crews, communications, administration costs etc. The sponsorship money you raise goes to the main beneficiary of the year’s race to support its work and contribute toward the funds it always badly needs to continue its valuable work.

Entering the race

Am I too late to enter?

It is never too late to enter as we take entries on the day however a lot of planning goes into this event so the earlier you can enter the better. It would be good to have your entry form by the first week of July if possible.

How do we enter the race?

The only way is to download an entry pack from the menu item Entry Forms above. There are two ways to send in your entry form, electronically or by post. Full details are on the Entry Forms page. The Race Secretary will then confirm your entry by giving you an expected start time and a raft number.

My son is 14 and a very good swimmer so could he go on a raft with my husband and his work mates as they are one man down?

The race is over 7.1/2 miles long and is extremely tiring so we think it is too strenuous and demanding for a person younger than 15. Additionally to comply with our insurance conditions we have to have a minimum age limit of 15, so we are afraid that he will have to wait another year until he can enter.

Since we entered one of our crew has changed.

This is not a problem.  When you arrive you need to register your presence and this includes advising the race officials of any changes to your crew.  Provided that the new crew member has signed the disclaimer then he is good to go.

Health and Safety

Do I need personal accident insurance?

We do not indemnify participants at all so each rafter should consider taking out personal accident insurance. We have Public Liability Insurance but that covers just Lions and their helpers.

What kind of life jacket do I need?

It is a condition of the event that every rafter is a competent swimmer and wears a device which will keep him or her afloat whilst on the river. An EN 393 or similar buoyancy aid does this so there is no need, in our opinion, to wear a full blown life jacket which will turn you onto your back in the event of immersion. You will not experience conditions found at sea but you do require a degree of movement freedom to paddle, take on refreshments and perhaps swap seats on the river, so a water sports vest would be quite sufficient.

On the river

How do you work out our times?

We use two radio controlled clocks, which maintain the correct time regardless of their location, for the start and finish and these clocks which are accurate to the millisecond calculate your race time.

I have noticed that there are two weirs in the race – how do we get the raft over them?

Yes, we have two weirs one at Hampton Lucy and one at Alveston. They are both manned by qualified divers who will help you and your raft over the weir. Additionally there is a team of canoeists who provide assistance if you lose a paddle etc

If I am on the river for 4+ hours what toilet facilities are there?

A very practical question! There are toilets at the start and the finish but there are none in between. It might be possible to moor up to a bank and use the privacy of a tree/bush/undergrowth but aside from those natural woodland facilities you are on your own!

What are river conditions likely to be?`

This is very hard to say. In the last 10 years we have twice had to postpone the June running of the event due to excessively high river levels which made it too dangerous to run the raft race. At the start there is usually a good flow to get you going but this slows down near Charlecote as the river becomes more shallow. After Alveston, the second weir, the river widens and the flow is not especially swift but there is plenty of room to negotiate or overtake rafts in front whilst keeping an eye out for pleasure craft.

What can we expect to see and/or do in Stratford

When you do finish you will need to remove your raft from the Avon and carry it to your transport vehicle. It is possible, but only possible, that we might be able to find some volunteers to help you with extracting and/or carrying your raft, but do not assume we shall. Once your raft is stowed away you are free to do pretty well most things. Some teams have a BBQ and a beer to celebrate finishing, whilst others like to take a wander around Stratford or perhaps go for something to eat before heading home.

What supplies can we take on the raft?

You would be very wise to take something to eat and drink in waterproof containers which can survive going over the weirs. Energy bars and drinks are good. In the interests of health and safety we would discourage you from taking alcohol on your raft and if any evidence of inappropriate behaviour comes to our attention then the offenders will be named and shamed. In Stratford we rely upon the goodwill of the commercial boat hirers, who are not backward in complaining about any bad manners on the river, so if the offence is sufficiently serious they could have the raft race shut down. PLEASE make sure you behave in a responsible manner at all times.

Race logistics

Where can I park my raft transport vehicle?

You have two choices – you can park it at either the start in Wasperton or at the finish in Stratford. You are given an expected start time so you should aim to deliver your raft to the start about one hour before which will give you sufficient time to take the raft transport vehicle to the finish in Stratford and get back to the start before you launch. Please remember that parking at Stratford is not cheap and traffic wardens are plentiful. You can, of course, leave the vehicle at the start (Wasperton) but will need to get from the finish in Stratford back to Wasperton to collect and return to Stratford to load up your raft.

Most crews park their transport vehicle at Stratford as this make removing the raft easier at the end of the race.

Raft design

This is my first raft race. Where can I get help with designing my raft?

A guide to raft specifications is in the entry pack and there are photos of various styles of raft on this site. Additionally, we have a wealth of information from a very experienced rafter, Bruce Fraser, at the menu item Raft Design Hints above. If you would like any further advice on building you raft please contact Lion Kelvin McIntosh – his details are on the right hand side bar and the Contact page of the website.

Where can I buy paddles from?

If you are keeping in the spirit of the event then you should make your own paddles, perhaps to match your raft? Although the rules state you should not use bought paddles you wouldn’t be excluded from taking part.