I try to organise the race to coincide with the Arundel Festival in August, and avoid the bank holiday weekend so as not to clash with the many other local events on at that time. The exact date is dictated by the tide, as I have to find a high tide on a weekend at a suitable time of day. Many weekends are ruled out by the tide being too early to allow teams and spectators to arrive, or much too late. Whilst I think bath racing in the dark could be quite amusing, I’m not sure it would catch on!
We launch the baths by crane, and with brute force and ignorance down a slipway made from scaffold boards, then tie them up at the bottom of a set of concrete steps leading from a patio area down to the river.
The race heads up river in a northerly direction, before turning around a buoy and coming back to the pub. We start just before high water so the first half will be with the tide and there should be little water movement, and of course the slack/outgoing tide assists broken baths and aching limbs on the return journey to the pub.
I organise a DJ, live music or various performers, and The Black Rabbit lays on a barbecue.
It is a very busy few weeks leading up to the race, and the day itself is always absolutely manic, but in a good way. It’s always fun to see what wacky creations and fancy dress will arrive.
My invaluable right hand man and good mate Graham Smallbones is a tremendous help before during and after the race, and he also builds the slipway and always enters a superbly built bath.
After nominal costs, entry fees and other funds raised go to charity – our chosen charity is Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice in Poling near Arundel. They are a hospice caring for life limited children and their families, and receive no funding other than donations. In 2010 year we raised £2448.13 for Chestnut Tree House!
Hopefully this popular family event will continue to grow, particularly now we have a shiny new website for which I heartily thank Joanna Eyre of Starboard Media UK. She entered the race for the first time in 2008 and was part of the 4 girl crew that took the Ladies trophy. She offered to run this site for me purely out of her belief in the event and it really is an exciting new project.
The contacts I have made, the support and ideas I have, and this website mean that the future of the race looks better than ever.
I’ve seen the future, and it’s got a plughole!