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sun shines on the Duck race - Updated February 16th 2014
Blue skies and sunshine brought out a large audience from all parts of the village for the Farringdon Duck Race which took place along the flooded section of the Gosport Road on Sunday morning.
Many homes along the course were under serious threat of flooding late last week and the appalling weather on Friday night had left many residents on the South side of the cross roads without power for almost two days, The chance for a bit of light relief was welcomed by almost everybody.
The course, from the crossroads to just beyond the Golden Pheasant car park contained a number of unusual hazards for the competitors but, after a thorough inspection by the steward, it was deemed fit to race.
As is traditional in these events there followed a short pre-start briefing by the Clerk of the Course to ensure that all owners and trainers were familiar with the rules and regulations regarding assistance for stranded competitors, salvage and re-launch after sinking and the restriction on any form of assistance to competitors after they passed beneath Woody's Duck Under that marked the beginning of the deeper water in the run down to the finish.
As is also traditional at these events these rules were completely ignored and there were some scurrilous and blatant attempts by some residents, previously regarded as gentlemen, to influence the result during the course of the mornings events.
As you can see there was a fair assortment of entrants but as this event had been arranged at short notice, the term "duck", was interpreted by the organisers as any small floating device that might stand a reasonable chance to remain afloat long enough to reach the finish.
This included a replica of the Titanic, just visible behind the front row of the grid, which unfortunately emulated the original, various inflatable devices, and an assortment of plastic boats, dishes etc.
Excitement was reaching fever pitch as the start line was lifted clear of the water and the countdown to the launch began.
They're Off! so is the dog and and out of shot a surreptitious boot propels a reluctant duck into the fray.
If you look carefully you will observe that the small duck on the right has (legally) taken a lead in the fast flowing water.
Betting was considered, but abandoned as it was almost impossible to distinguish between Donald Duck, Donald the Duck, the Duck called Donald and various other permutations.
For some inexplicable reason there also seemed to be some reluctance to allow your correspondent to hold the stakes.
By the time it reached the bus shelter this plucky little fellow was well clear of the field and looking like a dead cert to win the first race.
Despite a lead of about 20 duck lengths, the field soon made water after the leading duck suffered a capsize as it headed towards "Woody's Duck Under" one of the major hazards on the course.
The unexpected inversion was thought to be a one off until a quick look at the rear of the field suggested that . . . . . .
. . . . . . .a large number of competitors were suffering the same problem.
The conclusion being that most bath ducks are inherently unstable or to use the technical term . . ."quackers" . .
Despite all the confusion it was now a race for the line across the finishing lake and in a close race the Luke Hartley Inflatable was first to reach the line (without illegal assistance) with an anonymous white duck in second place. . . . . . .
. . . . .and a photo finish for third which resulted in the place being awarded to the blue tugboat (or possibly a miniature sombrero) by a short beak, with the more traditional bath time companion (although possibly not the first choice for everybody) placed fourth.
Due to impending legal action we can only show one picture from the first attempt to run the second race which was declared void after a series of blatant wave making, posterior boot assists, sabotage, interference from bicycles and people old enough to know better and at least two cases of blatant deflection by dog paddling (encouraged by their owner/s).
To ensure a clean race the second heat was re-run with a drop start , with the owners and trainers confined behind Woody's Duck Under.
Despite this precaution, a decoy pigeon mysteriously gained the power of flight (disqualified), as did two other bath time implements (both disqualified).
Two late starters were allowed a splash start (see right) as their owners couldn't reach far enough to make the drop off.
The rest of the field progressed to the finish line with minimal interference and the Race Two winner was this slightly horizontal duck, owned and trained by Lucy Burke.
Months of training and preparation were duly rewarded when the winning owners, Lucy Burke (Race Two) and Luke Hartley (Race One) were presented with the Prestigious Farringdon Duck race Gold Medals, suitably inscribed for the event.
The attention of the spectators was once again drawn to the finishing lake when an illegal entry escaped on the course.
Banned from race entry because of suspected use of steroids, the Mighty Happy Duck ran the length of the finishing straight in record time and was eventually recaptured on the finishing line.
With the race over the course was immediately commandeered for training purposes, under supervision of course.
Thanks to all those who organised and supported the event and despite a very enjoyable morning, the adult population of Farringdon will not be hoping for a repeat event next year.
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