Saturday, 24 October 2015
Part of the reason for the timing of this year's trip to Bridport is to attend the Derby River Derby. Based in the township of Derby (same place as the great new mtb trails), it's a longstanding river festival featuring various rafting and other activities.
When we arrived we just weren't sure what to expect. We sort of knew there were all sorts of different events, but we had no idea how they worked - how long were the races? could you hire a boat? what were the rules??… and the website did not help at all. It was clearly aimed at the people who had attended for the previous 20 years, who already knew their way around the river and the event. The event organisers might need to correct this, as although we had a great time, we certainly spent the first part of the day fairly confused. Luckily for us though, the first thing that happened was that Miley was roped into be a 2nd racer in a two-kid event, with a local kid, so he was the first to hit the water. It turned out the kids course was about 1k, with rapids, but as the river was low, there was a lot of getting out and pushing. This is them starting - Miley is forth from the left..
Watching Miley enjoy the adventure incited Zali and Jett (who were feeling extremely reluctant until that point) to take their places in the McFlemmo 4 person junior team.
The other part of the event is that all the spectators, and even the officials, are allowed to pelt the rafters with water and flour bombs as they proceed down the river. A bit like the Colour Fun Run, but wetter! We weren't really equipped for that so we could only watch. This is me and Jamie watching the Junior McFlemmos about half way down their course..
They had a great time too, which meant that us adults started to get keen on the newest event, the inaugural Raft, Run, Ride. We quickly decided that Jon and I would paddle, Denny would run the 5k and Rob would mountain bike the 10k course. This is Jon and I starting - we're in the middle… on our rented car-tyre-covered-in-tarpulin style raft.
Whilst some of the races could only be won by participants on home made crafts, the raft-run-ride event had no such rules, so we were competing with the full range of boats, from real whitewater rafts, down to inflatable thongs. This is us in the home strait..
That's the guy on the inflatable thong on the left, and the humorously named 'Usain Boat' and 'Pat Rafter' single red boats in front of us. We were happy to come in ahead of the real whitewater raft, and there were a respectable number of other boats behind us (including the third of the named red boats.. 'Ice Tube'). The paddlers on more conventional inflatable kayaks beat us in by a few minutes.
Things got more serious after the rafting leg, and the experience of the multisport racers became more obvious, but we were handing over to Denny so we were in safe hands in the mostly uphill 5k fairly rugged leg. She did a great time then handed over to Rob who blitzed around and brought us home in 8th place, 1st mixed team and 2nd team overall. Pretty impressive if we do say so ourselves. Unfortunately we missed the presentations as we were busy watching the rubber duck race down the river.
So - our overall impressions of the Derby River Derby? It was fun. Really fun. It felt like something you'd get to do a lot of in NZ (you know.. head down rapids on home made boats with absolutely no experience.. although in NZ you probably wouldn't have to wear a life jacket), but basically the sort of dangerous activity you don't get to do too much of in Australia! Apparenlty the river was a fair bit lower than normal which made for less paddling and more running - it would be good to see how everyone handled the rapids at the start of the course in a normal year as we saw a few complete flips this year. The other thing people were talking about were the lower than normal numbers of competitors. It did seem a little quieter than we were expecting, some of the races only had a two or three boats. I'm thinking that improving their pre-event information would help attract new comers.
The 'Blue Ribbon event of the Derby goes for about 5k down the river, but you need a minimum of 8 participants on your team and obviously a boat big enough to hold them! It looked fun though...
Maybe next year..
Oh - we did figure out that the kids events were first, so we actually arrived in Derby pretty early. So early that the VIPs hadn't parked their cars in their designated car spots yet..
I suspect it was Mr Awesome himself who put up the signs..