Ouseday (Raft Race) 2017

To celebrate Ouseday 2017 (Lewes to Newhaven Raft Race) on Sunday 9th July  Newhaven hung the flags out.

Before the raft race itself left Lewes, there was a keenly fought race between the Newhaven Gig Rowing Club’s men rowing their Cornish gig Amelie against a team from Lewes all the way down river from Newhaven to Lewes.  The exciting finish of the race was incredibly close, with the Newhaven team being just pipped at the post by Lewes.  The Newhaven Gig Rowing Club ladies then restored Newhaven’s pride by winning their shorter race – well done to them!

Newhaven’s Town Mayor, Councillor June Dyer, rode the town council raft “Mayor’s Mariners” all the way from Lewes to Newhaven.  The theme of the event this year was “Rule Britannia?” and in honour of this, June was dressed as Britannia.  The raft was propelled by her intrepid mariners – Susie Mullins, Ruth Durrant, Nicky Still, Kevin Lewry and Nick Tipper.  Nick kindly made the raft for the town council.  The Mayor’s Mariners came sixth, beating hot competitors the Newhaven Chamber of Commerce!  The winning raft was from Newhaven’s UTC@harbourside – congratulations to them!

Both the rafts and the gigs were met at Newhaven by crowds lining the riverbanks and the swing bridge and a vibrant range of stalls along West Quay with toe tapping music provided by Earthquake drummers and Nicki Day.  This was a lovely family summer day out for local residents.

Here are some photos of the day – and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can see a lovely video of the day made for the town council by George Taylor, and read a poem “Ode to the Raft Race” written by local resident Miss Jennifer Jones.

Ode to the Raft Race (Newhaven Regatta)

Shining rafts laden

On the Ouse at Newhaven

Our Regatta has begun

What fun!

The wind set fair

Oars in the air


All gathered on the river for the race.


Spectators throng and cheer

“Come on; they’re here”

But on the Ouse oh my

Fighting words are the cry

As the rafters scull along

Amidst the throng


All rowing on the river at a pace.


There are watchers in the shade

Drinking cool lemonade

But a coxswain must steer

And wait for a beer

With a loyal crew

Safely balanced true


With rafters on the river giving chase.


There’s an increased roar

“Come on number four”

And it’s difficult to tell

With a race fought well

Which team will surprise

And finish for the prize


But we will all celebrate our river race.



Jennifer Jones

3 July 2017