Raft race gets nod for festival
The Big River Raft Race, which was held in February for the first time in several years, looks set to be bigger and better next year, with the organisers gaining permission to run a festival alongside the Clutha-based event.
Project Clutha, formerly known as Clutha Young Professionals, which revamped the iconic raft race with great success this year, has just found out that the Otago Regional Council will grant a permit to hold a festival on the Clutha River, behind the Balclutha War Memorial Hall, near the finishing line. This also revives a past tradition where a festival accompanied the race.
The organisers were not yet sure what they would call the event but it would definitely be based around food and beverages, and children’s entertainment, Project Clutha spokesperson Laura Moore said. The group had been stoked with the success of this year’s event.
‘‘People have said ‘ when are you going to do it again?’.’’
And the group was pleased to recently announce that the race would be held again, on Saturday February 24.
However, the group was aware of a big challenge ahead of them, with having to recruit stall holders and get sponsorship, Moore said.
They would be putting equal focus on growing the raft race, which attracted 16 rafts this year, she said.
It started at Begg’s Beach near Clydevale, about 30km upstream of the finishing point, just under the Balclutha bridge. The $600 first prize money was donated by Balclutha’s Studio Fit, which is on board for next year’s event.
Catlins Land Search and Res- cue - LandSAR spokesperson Lianne Latta, whose organisation took part in the raft race, helped with the safety aspects, and also received a $835 donation from Project Clutha, said the event was a credit to its young team.
‘‘We very much appreciated the donation, and that the group could do something for a good cause.’’
Catlins LandSAR would use the donation to buy a new laptop computer, to help deal with the amount of data generated from modern search techniques, such as live tracking, she said.
Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club also received a $835 donation. Four months out from the race, the group urged people to start putting aside materials to build their raft, and to let their creativity go wild.