New route, same entertainment: Hundreds turned out to watch Oban raft race

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The annual Oban Bay Raft Race is a highlight of the year and the 2019 event was no exception.

Organised by the Oban and Lorn Lions Club, the race is sponsored by the George Street Fish and Chip Shop.

This year’s event was different due to a change in route – instead of going around the North Pier, the rafts remained within Oban Bay, which meant spectators could see everything, including the Oban Lifeboat crew soaking competitors with a hose.

On Saturday, the bay was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people who turned up to watch the spectacle, with some fairing better than others.

Rafts from Oban Distillery and Autoglass got off to quick starts, while Martyn’s Monday Club’s creation crumbled and split in two as soon as the team attempted to set off.

However, in true team spirit, and after launching a load of water balloons at their competitors, the crew clambered onto what was left of the raft and set off in two fractions, half submerged in water.

This year’s winners were MacVicar’s Farewell from Oban Distillery, in tribute to Shona MacVicar who is leaving the company to embark on a new adventure.

They were followed by Team Jamaica from Autoglass.

The Oban Distillery Visitor Centre team, whose raft was aptly named the Titanic, received a trophy for their valiant efforts in finishing the race, albeit in last place, in what can only be described as a wooden pallet taped onto two containers.

For the first time in decades, The Oban Times entered a raft, which was called Red All Over.

Despite getting off to a slow start, the vessel made its way around the course without much difficulty and looked very impressive coming back into the bay with The Oban Times sail fully extended.

The raft was made out of recycled material from LORI and four nights of hard work from Martin Stewart, also known as Dreich Outdoors online. Lifejackets were borrowed from Nick Wesley at Atlantis Leisure and the raft was transported thanks to a trailer loan from Donald Campbell of the Argyll Fencing Co-operative, who also sponsored the raft.

Speaking about this year’s event, Jim Edge from Oban and Lorn Lions Club, said: ‘It has been brilliant again. The new route seems to have been better. Everyone can see what is going on.’

John Stewart, who owns George Street Fish and Chip Shop said: ‘It is good to fund local events like this so all the kids and families can have a good time.’