The word ‘boat’ is generally associated with water, the activity of rowing or pushing, and sailors setting themselves towards a particular destination. But what bell does a regatta ring? And one where the bottoms of the boats are cut and people carry them? That’s what the Henley-on-Todd regatta brings to us this month!
The Henley-on-Todd Regatta, also known as the Todd River Race, is an annual event held in Alice Springs, Australia.
Third Sunday in August
How is it celebrated?
The Henley-on-Todd Regatta is a boat race without water, held on the dry Todd riverbed. This annual mad-cap charity event began in 1962 as a parody of the Henley-on-Thames race between Oxford and Cambridge universities, with the difference being that this race is in the desert.
Alice Springs holds a mock regatta every year in spring which is attended by a large number of locals and tourists. Since this race is held in the desert, it has no body of water and the sailors can race with their feet as the boats are bottomless. Food and drinks are served, “no fishing” signs are put up and it’s a day-long celebration.
Metal frames are used to make the boats and contain banners and advertisements. The teams of rowers run in the hot sand to compete with one another. Not only boats, but even washtubs, human-sized hamster wheels are used in the race.
Approximately twenty teams participate, who are sponsored by local businesses. The big finish to the day is a race between two large boats, built on tractor bodies, which have cannons fastened to the side and large fire hoses connected to water-tanks. The mix of flour and water make for a messy end to the day.
You can join the imaginary water action or just enjoy the hilarity from under the shade of gum trees on the edge of the dry Todd riverbed, and help raise funds for charity. Once you embrace it, this event is a lot of fun