Monday, May 28, 2012

28/05/12 Raft Race for Rupees

Forget the European Cup, never mind the Olympics, the most talked about sporting event of 2012 took place on May 24th and will no doubt be remembered by those that were privileged enough to witness it as quite possibly the greatest race of all time. The first (and quite possibly last) GVI Raft Race for Rupees.

It was the event that had simply everything. There was blood and tears, hope and despair, elation and dismay. There were last minute alterations and last minute entrants, there was cheating and skullduggery, and in the end there was one team of winners, while the dreams of others lay scattered across the Indian Ocean (all detached pieces of raft were collected after the race by the GVI support boat).

The event kicked off earlier in the week when the teams were announced and got together to design their rafts.

10 Tips on how to build a raft.

1.     Keep it simple
2.     Scavenge as much wood and bamboo as you can
3.     Collect old disused mooring buoys
4.     Increase your fizzy drink consumption (you will need those bottles)
5.     Get your hands on a lot of string
6.     Don’t forget to secure your oil drum to your raft or you may part company
7.     Duct tape, masking tape and electrical tape do not work as well when wet
8.     An outrigger does not necessarily make your raft more stable
9.     The bigger the raft, the harder it is to control
10. Test it before the day to make sure it floats

So it came to be that on Thursday morning the ‘Mermaids’ lined up alongside the ‘Pirates’, the ‘Castaways’, the ‘Marine Park Massive’ and a team of late entrants the Seychelles National Parks Authority (not a GVI team but our in-country project partners) to take part in the Raft Race for Rupees.

By virtue of having raised the most pre-race funds the Pirates were afforded a 30 second head start, an advantage they obligingly rid themselves of as they were caught and passed by each of the four remaining teams.

It was immediately clear that the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) meant business as they powered into a commanding lead.  They had gone for a simple design complete with gondola style pole and additional oars and the strategy seemed to be working.

After a brief collision with the Castaways the Mermaids made a break from the rest of the pack and set off in pursuit of the SNPA. They reached the halfway mark of the mooring buoy a good five minutes behind the leaders but steadily began to cut into their lead. Meanwhile the Marine Park Massive were encountering difficulties as they struggled to remain on their raft.

As they approached the finishing line it was oar to oar between the SNPA and the Mermaids, with neither team wanting to settle for second best. In the end it came down to a running finish as both teams picked up their rafts and sprinted for the beach. In what was a photo finish the SNPA took victory ahead of the Mermaids in a time of 50 minutes.  Next up was the Castaways followed by the Marine Park Massive. And finally the Pirates made it back, clinging on to what remained of their raft, exhausted and relieved.

So a huge congratulations goes out to the Seychelles National Parks Authority for their epic win. Commiserations to the rest of the teams who gave it their all. It was a fantastic day and we managed to raise a significant amount of money for the children’s home.

The highlight of the day surely had to be the look on the faces of a couple of tourists and their Seychellois boat captain as they arrived in the marine park only to be confronted by the sight of five rafts of mermaids, pirates and the like paddling furiously towards them. Priceless!

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To find out more about the work that GVI Seychelles does with the President’s Village Children’s Home visit: