Duck racers defy heatwave at annual event
- Credit: Andrew Atterwill
The hottest-ever Great Bungay Duck Race saw temperatures soar into the low thirties as hundreds of ducks took to the water.
Held on the River Waveney at Falcon Meadow on Sunday, the conditions presented a whole new category of problems for the organisers this year.
One of the few major duck races to take place on non-tidal waters, the race relies completely on natural river flow, which in turn depends on rainfall. And, of course, in recent weeks there hasn’t been any of that at all.
So instead of inching towards and through the weir at Bungay, the three racing duck fleets had to be driven towards the finish line by a crew of water-based duck wranglers who included canoeists and a lone paddle-boarder. Once safely into the watery grips of the weir, progress was then relatively quick to the winning tape. Event organiser Allan Myatt later described the operation as the most difficult task they had yet encountered in the history of the event, but praised his team on the water for their triumph over the trickiest of conditions.
And on the land, the temperatures also caused issues as a record crowd of more than 600 descended on the water meadow beauty spot; some with picnics, but most expecting to be fed and watered.
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The beer tent would have ran dry but for emergency supplies from nearby St Peter’s Brewery which had to be deployed.
A spokesman for event organisers Falcon Meadow Community Trust said: “Although we had a record crowd arriving, we doubt that there were more than four hundred at the event at any one time. That’s because many of the elderly, and those families with very young children showed caution in the heat and stayed only just as long enough as they felt comfortable.”
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All proceeds will help to fund the purchase of Falcon Meadow as a community owned green-space and amenity, and when the 860-strong fleet of main event ducklings spewed from the weir to close the show, they guaranteed that the community project had benefitted by many thousands of pounds. Earlier, record fleets of decorated business ducks and children’s puddle ducks, had completed their own races.