Paul Smith, Jarrod Balle, Brook Sanderson and Kevin Lawton doing the hard yards aboard ‘The Scud’. They finished a creditable third.
Glorious weather and a slightly altered course at Whangateau Reserve combined to make this year’s Leigh Community Raft Race a winner with crowds and participants alike.
At least eight homemade craft took to the water on March 26 and paddled their way from the boat ramp along to beyond the holiday park and back again, meaning spectators could stay in one spot to watch all the antics. Last year, the race went from Big Omaha Wharf to the boat ramp, which caused one or two logistical and parking issues.
Easy winners of this year’s race, and by a very big margin, were young stand-up paddlers Billy O’Reilly and Matthew Georgetti, both 16, on Matakana Fire 1, who romped home before some other entrants had barely got their oars wet.
Organiser Errol Murray of Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade said the new course was a great success, and next year he hoped to get kids along the coastal path armed with flour bombs and slingshots, just to add to the fun.
The race was followed by a sausage sizzle and presentation of the original race trophy at Leigh Fire Station.
“The race started in 1978 and it ran for years, but at some stage it just fizzled out,” Errol says. “We’ve got a trophy, so I just decided to re-start it last year. It’s just a bit of fun for the community.”