The River Rhone Raft Race – France – 1

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.


The annual raft race down the River Rhone from Lyon to Arles is one of the longest team raft races in the world. The rafts are rowed down the river by teams of four, who have created the rafts themselves from empty wine bottles. The rule that each team had to drink the wine from the bottles before using them to build the raft was waived in 2002, after the 2001 race was blighted by a number of competitors suffering from alcoholic poisoning in Lyon. However, some of the teams who enter the race still drink the wine beforehand, however their rafts tend to sink well before the finish line.

The race begins on the third Saturday in September, when the teams assemble by the river to have all their bottles inspected by the judges. Each bottle must be an empty, corked wine bottle and be normal size (750ml). The teams are allowed to construct small shelters on their rafts, but these are entirely at the discretion of the teams and aren’t inspected. The shelters don’t have to be made from bottles. The oars that are used must be standard canoe oars.

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