All Under The Place, 17 August, Alice Springs
The first of our “Main Events” today, where I go head to head with my co-presenter in a stupid sport of some sort. And they don’t come much more stupid than the Henley On Todd Regatta.
The river running through Alice Springs is dry for most of the year, so for over half a century now there has been a boat race with no water. Contestants sprint 100m carrying a boat with no bottom. As well as the single races (in kayaks) and the team races (in yachts) there are other events peppered throughout the day, so we tried our hand at sand filling (shovelling sand into an oil drum as quickly as you can) and the Oxford tub race, where you propel yourself along rails in a cart by shovelling the dirt either side.
The whole day was brilliantly bonkers, with a large crowd of spectators sitting on a grassy bank in the shade watching the competitors running around in clouds of dust as the sun beat down on us. Johny and I went head to head in the one man kayak racing, and I managed to steal it by a pretty narrow margin. Wasn’t easy, as the metal frames of the boat were quite heavy. We were both feeling it afterwards.
Bathing in the glow of a job well done we all decided to stick around and watch the grand finale – the boat battles. There’s no way we could have taken part in this for CBBC – health and safety would never have allowed it! Three trucks with boats built around them, hurtling round the river bed arena, with a sizeable crew letting off smoke bombs, sand cannons, power washers and hurling water bombs at each other. The Navy v The Pirates v The Vikings. I’ve never seen such unbridled chaos. We went absolutely wild watching it and felt that the Navy were robbed when first prize was awarded to the Pirates. If you find yourself in Alice Springs same time next year I recommend watching the rematch.