Monday 7 September 2015

The Pointlessness of Duck Racing

Not long after I smashed my camera on my run, I encountered an unusually large flow of people by the marina bridge in Farndon, seemingly watching a boat engaged in trawling on the river.

As I got nearer, it appeared that the river had erupted in pustulant sores, but when I reached the bridge it became clear that the crowds of folk out in the sun were watching a spot of duck racing out on the water.

I remember myself entering a duck race many years ago at the sailing club, before a local fishing club turned their home into a rather sterile lake. All the rubber ducks were numbered; some were orange, some were yellow, I think I had a yellow one. They were then summarily thrown into the water and allowed to drift across to the other side, like a moving carpet of jaundice. I have no idea where my duck finished. Knowing me, it was probably swallowed by a pike.

You see, Duck Racing is really rather dull. The ducks don't actually overtake each other, or fight for position, or indeed even stay upright. The ducks drift along with the current in exactly the same shaped blob they were dropped in on. If by some miracle you can identify which duck is yours, there's no point cheering it on, for it was 131st at the beginning of the race, it would be 131st at the end. Unless the race was held at the Niagara Falls, thrills would be in short supply.

But everyone looked to be having fun on a glorious day, although how the winning duck was decided after a rather random looking netting procedure I have no idea. And at least the ducks weren't putting any effort in to their racing, unlike a slightly overheated runner passing by.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 07.09.15

The excited crowd

Pustulant river?

Sun drenched

The netting of the ducks

FRom the bridge

The Sonning on a cruise

Looks like hard work


  1. This is a new one to me. Didn't know people raced rubber ducks. Glad to see them being collected though. Super photos of the river. That last shot looks very idyllic.

  2. That photo of the Sonning on a cruise brought back mem ories! Fifty or so years ago we were boating on a cruiser on the Thames and met the Sonning as we went under a bridge. Being new to the skills of boating on the Thames at the time we were of course in the wrong place at the wrong time and narrowly escaped disaster.

  3. The Sonning has been doing river trips here pretty much since I was a small child and probably before that. Folk used to hire it for parties as well, you'd be out walking or running and it would trundle by blasting out jazz.

  4. We have duck races here, or at least in Louth.

  5. I reckon you need a fast flowing watercourse with various obstacles to make it interesting!

  6. Looks a beautiful location - have only ever heard of one duck race round here and that's held on a river.

  7. Hi Ragged, well the Trent is a river but well into its middle aged lowland meanders here! Not much of a surface current, but a fair old pull underwater. Especially in the narrows of the town navigation.