THE ANTIBES RAFT RACE
(Motto "Who cares who wins")
Click Here to make a donation
THE HISTORY - by Russell Lunt
Click on photo's to enlarge, then
'Back' on your browser to return to this page
In a note to the 1977 edition of "The Boatswain's Manual" (c) 1977 Brown,
Son & Ferguson Ltd., Glasgow, which he revised, Captain A.G.W. Miller wrote:
"The changes in ships and seamanship continue and some men will complete
their careers at sea in ships where very little of the old style seamanship
is required. `M' Notices and British Standards leave little scope for the
personal touch but I hope that there is still an interest in the job which
goes beyond mere regulations."
did not have long to wait to see his hope fulfilled! Just
4 years later the first Antibes Raft Race,
organised by Julian Mills, was created to emulate the Oxford/Cambridge Boat
Race, but with a minimum of rules and administration. The first memorable
race took place without the "committee" having the foresight to obtain
permission from Port Vauban. The Port Captain, Mr Plym, took it in his
stride and later attended the evening bash with a view to lodging a
complaint, but finished up presenting the prizes. MY 'CARAMBA' won the first
race - their own 'Caramba Cup' which they had donated and which sat around
various bars in Antibes for some years until the committee remembered it.
The owner of "CARAMBA" later purchased a high-quality replacement cup which
became the coveted top award for the winning raft. The style of the race had
been set. During the 80's the finish line was at Harry's Bar in rue Aubernon, which
stopped the traffic for some hours. Everyone, Antibes Police included,
attended and joined in the fun. The race was held every two years or so
until the original committee ran out of steam.
a gap of a few years, the race was resurrected by Gary Morton (pictured
right) and a new organising committee roped in with Jamie & Christine Beirne
and Sally Finbow. Gary attended to the proper creation and registration of
the Antibes Raft Race Association as a non-profit-making Association at the
local Sub-Prefecture in Grasse under the provisions of the Law of 1901. The
course and the few rules were continually changed (often at the last
moment), and most of the more recent races held in 1994 and 1996 proved so
popular that the 1998 race was planned to be held a little later - in May -
so as to give crews returning from the Caribbean the chance to compete (and
give all the raft crews warmer water when they fell in the Port). In true
Raft Race tradition, things fell apart at the last moment, and the actual
race was not held - although the evening bash - The Hollywood Party - was a
rafts have distinguished themselves over the years. Julian Mills in full
P.L.O. Freedom Fighter uniform driving "ERNA"; Jack Smith on the sleek and
fast "HIBA"; Steve Baxter on "LADY ASHLEY" with her 9" spaghetti guns;
Pierre Rayon and the I.Y.C.As "GAROU" which carried a live chicken to
achieve equivalence to the rule 6 in 1990 that each team include 1 woman;
the 1994 raft from "SIRAN" (disqualified winner), who had cheated by having
an engine hidden within the raft (not discovered during scrutiny) and
started their prize acceptance speech "On behalf of our sponsor - Yamaha
raft was built by the crews of some of the largest yachts in the world. The
standard of construction and ingenuity of the crews employed is to be
marvelled at and demonstrates that "the old style of seamanship" is well
understood and that jury rigging has reached almost an art form. The
race took place "around lunchtime" and was followed by an evening gala disco
featuring 'The Yachtbreakers' (Antibes own popular band) held in the hall
under the helipad at the International Yacht Club d'Antibes in Antibes Port.
There were raffle draws (with raffle prizes cajoled from local businesses)
and the prize-giving for the different categories of winners (best raft,
best cheat, best dressed crew, first raft home etc).
The judges (an esteemed bunch of ladies and gentlemen which has included
such notables as Joe Russell, Chris Jones, Nick Sturge, Mike Meade, Nick
Myers, Peter Insull, David Skellon, Sue Filer, David Dyer, Jane Hardy, Barry
Piggin, Caroline Volmerange, Geoff Marsh, Kenny Minns, John Morris and other
local yachtsmen who work for a free hat) let it be known early in the
proceedings that cash bribes can influence the final decision. All
proceeds from the event were donated to local charities and the association S.C.A.M.T. - a non-governmental humanitarian aid association which sent
medical equipment and supplies to Bosnia. The
Antibes Raft Race was the traditional start to the Summer Season, as well as
raising useful money for charity. In 1996 - an amazing FF 90,000 was raised.
It was a great day out to take part, or just watch, and certainly
demonstrated "an interest in the job which goes beyond mere regulations".
Visit our Snap Book - Click here to see photo's of Races Past.
The 2002 Antibes Raft Race took place on Saturday 4th May. It tied in
nicely with the
Refit 2002 Show which ended on that day. Refit 2002 Show organiser Peter
Bryant kindly made his Bar Marquee available to the Antibes Raft Race
Association for their evening Fancy Dress Party, but due to the great
numbers of Party-Goers expected the venue for the Evening Party was changed
(at last minute in true Raft Race Tradition) to Rio's Banana Cafe on the
quayside at Port Camille Rayon, Golfe-Juan. Showing exceptional
understanding, and although being miffed at loosing this prestigious event
which was looking to be a Grand Finale to the Refit 2002 Show, Peter Bryant
offered the Raft Race Association a Desk at the Refit Show so that the last
minute change of venue can be best publicised. The stand proved a real boost
the the Raft Race Committee who held impromptu briefings for the Marshals,
RaftMasters (and RaftMistresses) and Safety Crews at the desk which was next
to the Bar ! Long standing Raft-Race-Boss Gary Morton donned his President's hat, and
led an enthusiastic committee who made the arrangements to ensure that the
day will take its proper place in the distinguished history of this event. With
a memorable display of theatre and Raftsmanship - the crew of "CALIXE" took
the Caramba Cup for the Winning Raft and the
Peter Filer Memorial Cup for the Most Entertaining
Behaviour with their raft "FLINTSTONES" at the 2002 Antibes Raft
Over a thousand RaftRace Affectionados crowded the International Yacht Club
d'Antibes and Port Vauban to witness the brave RaftRacers on a final total
of 22 Rafts as they took to the water (literally in most cases). Early morning rain gave way to bright sunshine for the RaftRace, which
started some 20 minutes late due to late arrival of some of the Rafts. Mr.
Pierre Rayon from I.Y.C.A. officiated at the start. There was a fresh
crosswind which gave an added interest to the proceedings. Jean Allier's
Raft 'OL' MAN RIVER' (pictured right arrived just as the Winning Raft was finishing, but
undeterred they joined in the mid-course water fight and managed to sink a
number of others. They waltzed home with the Chris Allix Cup for
Total Incompetence in Rafting. Other winners included D.S. Maritime's "JUNGLE WARRIORS" led by RaftMistress Sammy Benn who was an obvious choice for the Angel of Ecstasy
presented by Ocean Master Charters for "Miss Raft Race
2002". The Judges cleverly avoided having to single out any one lady
- and awarded this trophy to the all girl crew !
won the Peter Bryant Cup for the Raft most in need of Refit with their late
entry Raft, and the coverted David Skellon Award for the
Biggest Cheat was scooped by Alain Galet from
Biot with his Raft "HAWAIIAN BOOZIE ROKKET No. 1" (seen left). Matt Callaway from S.Y. "ALTAIR" took the Feadship Trophy for
Best Raft with his entry "FIFE CASTAWAYS", and
Paul Hussein on "PREZENS - THE BOOGY RAFT" took the Pinmar Cup for the
Best Painted Raft.
Click here to see the full list of the 2002 winners. Judges for the day were Joe Russell, Rupert Nelson, Colin Squire, Peter
Allan, Sheena Insull, David Skellon, Chris Allix, Richard Morris, Steve
Emerson, Olivia Rayon, Norma Trease and Russell Lunt who was also MC.Trophies were presented at the Evening PIRATE PARTY held at Rio's Banana
Cafe BAR-CLUB in Port Camille Rayon, Golfe Juan. The party was an
outstanding success with hundreds of Pirates and RaftRacers dancing the
night through. Best Fancy Dress prizes went to Heather Skipper who managed
to dress up as a Pirate Treasure Chest, and Chris Allix as Captain Hook.
Click here to see all the pics of the 2002 RaftRace and
Details and the report of our 2012 Raft Race - held on Saturday 21st April -
are on our home page.
Brown, Son & Ferguson, Limited of Glasgow for permission to quote from
"The Boatswain's Manual". The latest edition is available from all nautical
bookshops or direct from them.
article 'THE ANTIBES RAFT RACE (Motto "Who cares who wins")' was
first published in the PYA News - the annual colour magazine published by
the Professional Yachtsmen's Association (http://www.pya.org).
It is being continually updated by the author. The
author, Russell Lunt, is a Council Member (and previous Hon. Secretary) of the Professional Yachtsmen's
Association, and for 21 years was managing director of Yachtbrokers International in Antibes
He served his time rafting down the Var in old liferafts in the 80's and
holds a Certificate of Competence (RaftMaster) Class 1. His company's entry
for the 1990 Raft Races (raft called 'The Lunt Punt of the Month,) won an
award (the wooden toilet seat pictured) for 'Total Incompetence in Rafting'.
In an excellent display of SuperRaftsmanship - they managed to be awarded
the same award in 2002 - now called the Chris Allix Cup - for their entry 'Ol'
Man River'. Russell is secretary of the Antibes Raft Race Association.