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.

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