I'm not a gambler but one can't help but be compelled to put on a wager when it comes to the Festival of the Sea's Annual Duck Race. Each year we buy a duck for the kids, they provide the race name and we wait for the day to arrive where they all get hurled off the Barwon Heads bridge and race for their little plastic lives.
For a week the kids coached their ducks. It was a tortuous, unrelenting regime of swimming, sky diving and jet propulsion. With every fibre of their being, Spotty Wot and Scrambled aimed to be the absolute best in their field. They had achieved their physiological peak and were physically confident.
Charlotte was the first to say goodbye. As she kissed Spotty Wot I heard some last words of encouragement:
Charlotte "What are your legs?"
Spotty Wot: "Springs, steel springs"
Charlotte: "What are they going to do?"
Spotty Wot: "Hurl me down the river".
Charlotte: "How fast can you swim?"
Spotty Wot: "Good question, not that sure, my hole at the bottom is unreliable, may take in water....(he trails off)"
Charlotte: "GET IT TOGETHER MAAAAAN, How fast can you swim?"
Spotty Wot: "Oh, as fast....as fast as a Korean-made plastic yellow duck!"
Charlotte: "And how fast are you going to swim?"
Spotty Wot: "What's with all the questions? I'm a duck for goodness sake, ducks can swim.... (he senses Charlotte's mercenary-like stare) OK, OK, as fast as a Korean-made plastic yellow duck!"
Charlotte: "Then lets see you do it".
Whilst Spotty Wot and Scrambled waited in their temporary hold (a rather crude docking station for such well-tuned, athletic poultry), we positioned ourselves near the river ready to scream our lungs out.
An odd thing happened.
An odd thing happened.
Rather than hurling the ducks off the bridge, a small blue craft (which we affectionately call Iggle Piggle's boat) dumped them over the side. The crowd was uneasy and confused. What on earth is going on here? And then it seemed to dawn on us all at once - the tide was going out so the ducks had to be released down stream.
Unfortunately the wind picked up and an onshore breeze pushed our ducks into the hands of bored children who had decided to jump into the river fully clothed.
I chose to turn my head whilst my daughter and her friend gathered up some of the competitors.
Canoes and volunteers then made the mad dash to stop the ducks from swimming under the bridge and into the bluff where they would be sure to meet a perilous end in the mouths of sharks or boat propellers. I think secretly they were all hoping to make it back to their homeland in Korea.
Finally, a winner was proclaimed. Some Irish duck well trained for wet weather racing. A little saddened we didn't make a place, we waved good bye to our ducks for another year and Charlotte promptly had a melt down when realising she couldn't take Spotty Wot home.