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Local schools took the plunge in the first Bude Sea Pool raft race.

A blowy but bright day greeted the five enthusiastic school raft teams at the inaugural schools’ raft race on Saturday 22nd June at Bude Sea Pool.

Two heats were closely fought by the teams representing Altarnun, St Petrocs, Budehaven and Stratton schools; the latter entering two teams in their bid for watery glory. The energy of the teams was palpable as they gamely fought a close battle to cross the historic Sea Pool in Bude against a stiff, onshore breeze. The course should have taken the teams over nearly 100m of the semi-natural tidal swimming pool, from its Summerleaze Beach side towards Middle Beach. However, steering the purpose-built rafts proved not to be an exact science and the ‘course’ seemed only to be a vague suggestion for some of the keen paddlers. All were encouraged (or otherwise…) from loyal bands of supporters on the sidelines.

The teams behind the rafts were a mixed bunch of ‘marine engineers’, the majority of whom were probably dads and teachers. A strong theme of rope, plastic barrels and outright optimism was at the fore, but most of the sailing vessels performed admirably.

St Petrocs went home wearing the yellow jersey, very proudly displaying the coveted Winners’ Trophy. The team from Budehaven carried off the runner’s up award, hoping for victory next time. The teachers involved seemed to forget the rules as they neared the finishing line aboard their vessels, but their sportsmanship, although definitely damp, was well intentioned.

Refreshments were supplied by girls from Year Seven of Budehaven School, who did the event proud by selling delicious home-made cakes with profits to the Sea Pool. A special mention goes to Yasmin Allsworth who swam a sponsored two miles in the Pool (around 40 lengths if you want to try it yourself), again to raise funds for the Pool’s ongoing restoration.

Headteacher and co-organiser Ray Newberry, who wasn’t on the winning team (this time), praised the organisation and willingness of the teams and supporters to get involved. Special thanks go to Mel Bardsley who pushed the boat out (…sorry) for Budehaven and helped FoBSP with all aspects of set-up and organisation.

Martyn Holehouse, vice-chair of the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, thanked everyone for all their superb efforts and promised to make the event an annual one. All participants went home with a small thank-you from FoBSP in recognition of their enthusiasm and sportsmanship.

Bude Sea Pool is funded and managed by FoBSP, a volunteer-run local charity. The Pool’s running costs and restoration must be covered by membership fees, donations, business sponsorship and grants.