2000 saw the first participation in the Abersoch Raft Race by a crew from the Pandora fleet.
This inaugural participation was the brain child of Tim Fantom and Ian Large who, fuelled with sufficient helpings of Harry’s best bitter, recruited class captain Steve Colclough, and hero of dangerous sports, Jay.
Arthur, boson of S.C.Y.C. kindly offered us the use of his own raft, which he failed to mention, was buried under about 5 tons of scrap iron. Undeterred, and fuelled by further refreshments, the raft was duly extricated.
A survey of the rafts condition revealed nothing a role of duct tape and four cargo straps couldn’t put right. Surprisingly however, Lloyds of London refused to insure it. Having only completed the repairs on the morning of the race, the crew retired to the S.C.Y.C. bar to discuss strategy and tactics, and some more…. yes you’ve guessed it! The team agreed it was too late to start any rigorous training.
With approximately 1 hour to the start, a decision was made to test the raft for it’s buoyancy, as it had not actually been on the water yet! But by the time refreshments were finished, the crew with raft were seen running down the slipway just in time to join the start line. At this point Thomas, age 6, announced his intention of joining the crew.
Course details, crew positions and race tactics were hurriedly finalised with minutes to spare. As the crowd gathered, and the seconds ticked by, thoughts of “what am I doing here?” were soon forgotten as the start signal sounded.
The crew soon found that synchronised rowing stopped the raft from going round in circles. With the rhythm perfected and aerobic capacities working to a maximum, a decision was made to move up the fleet from last position.
At the half way mark, another raft ignored the collision regs and required fending off. All too quickly the finish line was past, with the Pandora raft finishing a creditable… not last!
About now Ian decided to dismount from the front of the raft, which resulted in the heavy weights on the stern instantly sinking, and young Thomas being propelled into the air from the front.
All in all the crew and their supporters had a thoroughly enjoyable time, which resulted in the threat of an all ladies crew for 2001.
After all they couldn’t do any worse!
© Tim Fantom