BBG gears up for second annual raft race

Published 7:33 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Blackbelt Benefit Group is gearing up for its second-annual Alabama River Raft Race.

The race will be held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept 5. Entry is $10 or $15 for a T-shirt. The race will travel down the Alabama River from above the Edmund Pettus Bridge and finish at the Sand Bar restaurant.

“This is the sort of thing that used to happen all the time when I was young,” said Victor Shaw, BBG member and race organizer, reflecting on his childhood in New Zealand. “People today need to be working on making these memories with their kids and there’s just not enough of it.”

Even though this is the second year the BBG has hosted the event, the river race is an old tradition for the Queen City. Last year marked the first time holding the race after nearly 30 years of it being discontinued.

The annual river race was a tradition in Selma that lasted at least two decades before it was shut down for liability reasons, according to Shaw.

“The government is not in the business of not letting you do a raft race. The government wants you to do it safely,” Shaw said. “We want to be able to do it every year.”

The upcoming race will be much like the last one. There will be a race for home-crafted rafts and a race for canoes and kayaks. Winners of each category will win an award.

In addition to the two racing categories, this year’s race will also include tubing for spectators.

“We’ll have restrictions on what kinds of tubes can be used and how they can be lashed,” Shaw said. “We have a permit to do this, and it’s a pretty big fine if you don’t follow their rules so we can’t afford to be doing that.”

Final details are being worked out. Shaw said more specifics will be announced on rules, restrictions and launching site will be released once everything is settled. At this point, people interested in participating will be able to register through a link on the race’s Facebook page.

Shaw said although the race had a good turn out last year, he expects the event to be even better.

“I think this is something Selma and this area needed,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot of people who still have their rafts sitting on a trailer waiting to enter them again.”

For more information about the race, visit its Facebook page: Alabama River Raft Race 2016.