Excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot This book describes 40 sports that ought to be played but aren’t, because I made them up.
At 11am the Chief Judge pops the cork from a Champagne bottle and the race begins, with the teams constructing their rafts from the bottles and lashing them together with rope, string, raffia, and even large elastic bands. The race doesn’t end until the last floating raft crosses the line in Arles regardless of how many oarsmen are aboard at the time. If the raft hits an obstruction and some of the bottles are broken then the team can replace them at their own expense. It is entirely optional whether the contents are consumed by the team or not.
The distance between the two cities is approximately 280 kilometres along the Rhone. The record time for the winning team has declined rapidly since 2002 and now stands at 14 hours 34 minutes set by the Pride of Lyon team in 2013. Jacques Olivier was the captain of the craft that set this time: “Well it certainly helps a lot to steer the raft, if you haven’t drunk 24 bottles of wine previously – you can see the right way and you can avoid the trees, banks, bridges, and other boats on the river. I entered a team in the 1998 race and I was the only one on the raft when we arrived at Arles – although I don’t really remember as I was still hungover. I never saw Charles, Bertrand, and Alec again – someone said that Bertrand was found on the bank in Valence but I don’t believe it; Alec might be in Montelimar living under an assumed name – as for Charles, who knows.”