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Toy bath ducks face tough river conditions in charity race

by Genevieve Howard on 5 Apr 2011
Some competitors, forced onto the rocks of the river bank by strong side-winds, had to be assisted by spectators. - The Great NZ Englefield Charity Duck Race Genevieve Howard

The fourth Great NZ Englefield Charity Duck Race took place in Lower Hutt on Sunday. The event raised funds for Coastguard and two other charities.

Competitors – several hundred plastic toy bath ducks – raced from the Melling to Ewen bridges along a short section of the Hutt River. Leaders were buoyed by strong tail winds, while later stragglers had to be assisted by spectators as sharp side-winds crashed many competitors into the large rocks of the river bank.

River conditions were choppy. Race officials were often forced to wade waist-deep into the river to assist competitors who had lost the current.

Stragglers were still making their way downstream an hour after race-start. At last count, all had made the finish.

The first Charity Duck Race was held in Lower Hutt in 2008. The corporate duck race was added in 2010. Entrants must be traditional yellow-bodied, orange-beaked plastic toy bath ducks. Entry cost for a small, traditional-sized duck is $5. Corporations sponsor the entry of larger ducks, which staff may dress up, for $200.

The race starts at Melling Bridge, when the smaller ducks are tipped into the river from the back of a large yellow dumpster. Corporate ducks have a head start, released from a net several metres ahead of the dump truck.

The goal is Ewen Bridge, several hundred metres downstream. The winner is the first duck to cross the pontoon finish line.

First prize this year was a laptop computer. An iPad and iPhone Touch were the second and third prizes respectively, fourth was a digital camera and fifth an iPod. Gift baskets were awarded to ducks placed from sixth to tenth place.

In the Corporate Duck division, first prize was the prestigious naming rights for the 2012 race. Second prize was an iPad, and third an iPod Touch.

The prizegiving is held at the Petone Working Men’s Club.

Money raised from this year’s race went to the Te Omanga Hospice, the Hutt Hospital Foundation Trust, Coastguard NZ and St Johns.











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