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Chester Raft Race to pay tribute to water speed record legend

Replica of Donald Campbell's Bluebird among the craft taking part in July 2 event

Mechanics Saqui Richards, Olivia Brown, Sam Wade and pilot Mike Skinner with Mr Whoppit on the replica of Bluebird(Image: UGC)

Decorated rafts with their intrepid paddlers are due to take to the water from the Meadows around 10.30am this Sunday (July 2) as the Chester Raft Race gets under way.

The Rotary event, now in its 42nd year, is renowned for some outstanding raft creations and especially from the Old Harkers Arms Pub team.

This year is no exception as they will be bringing along a realistic recreation of Bluebird, Donald Campbell’s ill-fated world water speed record attempt on Lake Coniston 50 years ago as their interpretation of the raft theme Power on the Water.

Skipper Mike Skinner says he will be accompanied by Mr Whoppit, Campbell’s teddy bear mascot and the sole survivor of the tragedy, to whom the raft is dedicated.

Mike and Mr Whoppit will be joined by fellow crew members Saqui Richards, Olivia Brown and Sam Wade.

The Harkers engineering team also includes designer and chief engineers Chris Oliver and Nick Spall who was also responsible for the costumes.

Paul Jeffrey, landlord of the Old Harkers Arms, also needs thanking for his unstinting support.

The build represents a full size replica of the iconic craft that Donald Campbell CBE used to attempt to break his own water speed record in the famous K7 Bluebird half a century ago.

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 10.30am.

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 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.

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