History

The Team has it’s roots in the original BT Madley Raft Team, called Earlybird.

Earlybird competed in the early 100 mile raft races, and as you can see from the photographs of "Earlybird I" and "Earlybird II", things have evolved quite a bit over the years. In fact the first 100-mile race was competed over 4 days by 2 pubs over a bet to see which could complete the distance quickest. These original rafts weren’t lightweight, picnics were takem on board and they were often equipped with sails.

Earlybird I
Earlybird II

Worcester Police, on their raft “Ecilop” were the first to steamline the raft and blitzed the 100-mile route. Other teams followed suite with similar designs, including "Earlybird I" with their second raft, "Earlybird II". As as result, the race was competed over 3 days rather than 4.

In 1989, MadSat began, evolving from (and being trained by) the Earlybird crew. Our first races weren’t without hazard however where we saw us crashing into the Old Bridge in Hereford during one training session on a high river, which resulted in our crew having to be rescued by the Fire Brigade!

River Rescue

Undeterred, we rebuilt the raft (MadSat 1B) and entered the 1989 100-mile race, finishing 23rd out of 72 entries in a time of 14 or so hours, but more importantly, beating our sister team the Satellite Earth Station at Goonhilly to win our first trophy, the BT Shield. That year we also entered our first British Championships in Telford, but unfortunately crashed after 2 miles at Jackfield Rapids.

MS1 (1989)

In 1990 we entered the 100 miler with a lot more knowledge on board and although we improved to 14th, we (and a lot of others) were blitzed by a brilliant Goonhilly team, now called Telstar (after the first communications satellite), who finished 2nd overall. Sadly, this was to be the last time Goonhilly entered the race.

MS2 (1990)

We have entered every 100 mile race since then, including  the race which was reduced in distance to 70 miles (effectively Day 1 and Day 2 of the 100-miler but still run over 3 days). The only times when races haven't been run were during the outbreak of Foot & Mouth, when the River Wye was in flood and of course, Covid.

We now enter as many races throughout the year as we can.

Our Continuing Success

Just finishing a race can be deemed a success, due to the effort required both on and off the water.

But winning is obviously the objective and we have done so frequently! – Minehead (twice) and the Hereford River Festival. We’ve come 2nd lots of times inclulding 3 times in the 100-miler / 70 miler. We’ve won categories within many races over the years too, including the BT Shield, Fastest 4, Fastest 6, Fastest 8, Fastest Mixed Crew and Fastest Ladies Crew to name but a few.

Last year (2021) we won the National Raft Race League Fastest Ladies and Fastest Mixed categories which enabled us to win the Overall category.

Get in touch

We're always looking for new members to join our team. It would be great to hear from you.

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