For the last nine years, amateur
raft builders of all ages have cobbled together anything that floats in order
to compete in the prestigious George Raft race. Anyone interested can become a
part of this famed tradition next weekend.
The 10th annual George Raft Race
will take place Saturday, August 7 as part of Blaine’s Drayton Harbor Days. The
race will start at 1 p.m. with registration starting at 12:30 p.m. Anyone with an inkling toward the
nautical can build their own raft from recycled materials and race from the
Blaine Marina’s boat launch to the Blaine Boating Center Gate 2, said Bob
Knapp, the George Raft race’s founder.
Using only recycled materials is
one of the few rules to the race, Knapp said. Rafters attempting to use
surfboards or anything else specifically built for travel on water have been
disqualified in the past, Knapp explained.
“[Racers can use] what ever floats,
really. Everyone gets pretty ingenious,” he said.
The use of paddles is allowed, and
wearing personal floatation devices is encouraged. The rafts can be built to
hold a total of four people and one dog, Knapp said.
Knapp said there’s no real secret
to building a successful raft. Everything from cardboard tubes to empty milk
jugs tied together have been used in previous races, he pointed out.
“It’s always hit or miss whether
they’re actually going to float or not,” Knapp said.
The idea for a raft race originated
in Knapp’s home country of England. Knapp said he decided to bring the idea of
small, inter-pub raft races near London to Blaine Marina after talking with
Drayton Harbor Days organizer Richard Sturgill.
The George Raft race takes its name
from a Cockney expression referring to something fun that caused people to
laugh, Knapp explained. Since the race often inspires laughter, Knapp said he
thought the George Raft race would be a perfect fit.
“I didn’t think anyone would get
it, so it didn’t really matter,” Knapp joked.
Joking aside, Knapp said he thought
using an obscure English expression would add to the fun of the raft race. He
explained the name has nothing to do with the American actor named George Raft.
For more information on the race
and where to borrow building supplies and a personal floatation device, call
Bob Knapp at: 360/332-3111.