This Sunday, 30 rafts will take to the water from the meadows for the 42nd Rotary raft race. Departing from the meadows around 1030m the crews will battle it out to reach the finishing line in the Groves just above the weir.  The event is renowned for its clever raft design and this year will be no different with the Old Harker’s Arms Pub following up last years “Back to the future” themed effort with a recreation of Bluebird- Donald Campbell’s ill fated world water speed record attempt on Lake Coniston, 50 years ago as their interpretation of this years theme “Power on the water”

The Bluebird was a jet engine hydroplane with which Donald Campbell set seven world water speed records in the 50s and 60s. Tragically Campbell was killed 50 years ago when Bluebird flipped over whilst travelling at over 300mph.  Donald’s teddy bear mascot Mr Whoppit was discovered floating in the wreckage and will make a guest appearance on the Harker’s raft. Skipper Mike Skinner had dedicated the raft to the memory of Campbell.


Mr Whoppit and crew: mechanics Saqui Richards, Olivia Brown, Sam Wade and Pilot Mike Skinner


The Harkers engineering team also includes designer and chief engineers Chris Oliver and Nick Spall who was also responsible for the costumes. Support has also come from landlord of Old Harker’s Arms, Paul Jeffrey. The raft is a full size replica of the iconic craft.

The target speed for this craft is 3.03mph: 100th the achieved pace recorded on Coniston Water in 1967.


Once again champion Fly Boarder Jay St John will be entertaining the crowds in the Groves with his stunning display from around 10.15am before the rafts start their race at 10.30.

 This year’s charity event is in aid of the local branches of The National Autistic Society and SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, together with other charities of the Rotary Club of Chester.

Main sponsorship support is once again kindly provided by  Survitec  well known manufacturers of marine, defence and aerospace survival equipment. Also supporting the event are SP Energy Networks, Urenco Capenhurst, ASH Skips and Hurst’s Bakery.

 Prizes are up for grabs for the overall quickest crew to finish with other awards to the fastest men’s, ladies and pub rafts as well as the best representation of the race theme.

 Raft Race from 10am Sunday 2nd July

2 Replies to “Raft race 2017 preview”

  1. Thank you for an really excellent article with super photos. We are looking forwrd to a great morning on the river.
    The Old Harker’s Arms also have a bar on the Meadows where everyone can enjoy a drink with the crews,

    1. The fabulous Rock Choir will entertain everyone before the Race on the Groves and on the Meadows afterwards.
      The fantastic Champion Fly Boarder Jay St, John will give a stunning display on the water.

      Please people don’t forget to bring some cash to put in the collecting boxes which will support good causes including SSAFA – the Armed Services charity of choice and The National Autistic Society,

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