Headland carnival raft race thrills the crowds despite the downpour

Wind and rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of crowds who turned out for Hartlepool Headland Carnival raft race.

Sunday, 1st September 2019, 17:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st September 2019, 17:47 pm
The winning team Andy's Toys

The race – one of the highlights of the carnival calendar – saw eight teams go head-to-head in the waters off the Fish Sands beach.

The event is organised by volunteers from the Hartlepool Carnival committee with backing from The Pot House pub.

Organiser Kevin Jones was delighted with the support from the Headland community for this year’s race, with spectators defying the bad weather to cheer on the racers.

The rafts at sea

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“It is always a brilliant day, especially if the weather is good, but this year we had a bit of rain, we had a bot of lightning and some heavy winds, but the crowds stayed around,” said Kevin.

The raft race was a fixture of the carnival for many years before falling out of favour and was resurrected by the committee a few years ago.

“It has been back on for four or five years now and it just gets bigger and better every time," said Kevin.

“We had eight rafts taking part this time and it went really well, though we did have a false start this year, which was the first time we have ever had that.”

Paying tribute to local heritage

The race itself takes place from the Fish Sands with entrants racing out to a marker near the pier and back again.

Teams compete not only to clock up the fastest time, but also for who has the best themed raft.

The fastest team this year was the Boys Brigade, while the prize for Best Dressed Raft went to a team called Andy’s Toys.

“They were all dressed as characters from Toy Story and their raft was RC, the radio-controlled car,” said Kevin.

The winning Boys Brigade team

“We really want to say a big thank you the Pot House pub - a lot of the success of the event is down to the fact they do so much to help make a really big day of it.

“We had a little fair, we had music and live local bands coming down. It is always a great day and there is a real party atmosphere.”

Under starters' orders
The Andy's Toys team make their way to the sea