Their tan T-shirts darkened by sweat and water, a group of men and women frantically paddled their raft toward the finish line about 11:15 a.m. Saturday, screaming with each downward chop.
Silently, their competition pulled ahead and nosed their raft between two orange buoys, securing first place in the 59th Annual Beaufort Water Festival Raft Race. Only then did the Southern Tree Service #LimbWalkers break their silence, lifting their paddles to the sky in celebration and yelling the news of their win.
Dozens of people watching from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park sea wall echoed those shouts. Many of them had been watching the tournament's heats since they began at 8 a.m.
The #LimbWalkers took home the championship, and a prize paddle, in their first go at the Raft Race.
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Southern Tree owner Ronnie Reiselt said he and his employees decided to join the competition on a whim about a month ago, and hadn't found time to practice since.
He says they owe their win to teamwork and perseverance.
"It was just for the fun of it," Reiselt said after the race. "But we're coming back better next year. We'll beat this year's time."
The second-place team, the tan-shirted Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority Sewer Ratz, did not leave empty handed. They won first place in the non-profit division.
Other division winners include:
Volunteer of the day: Mikel Swinton
Armed with a plastic bucket and claw, Mikel Swinton weaved through the Beaufort Waterfront Park swings about 11 a.m., leaving clean swathes of grass and sidewalk in his wake.
The 59-year-old Port Royal man had been cleaning litter around the festival since 7:30 a.m. and planned to continue into the afternoon.
Swinton works for the Beaufort County Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, cleaning schools, libraries and other government buildings. However, the veteran volunteer of about 20 years says nobody asks him to clean at the festival.
"Somebody's got to get it done, so I'm just going to do it," he said, as he picked plastic zip ties and drinking straws out of the dirt. "It'll be nice and clean when people come to sit down."
Swinton says he enjoys the festival crowds and knowing he's doing his part to improve their experience.
"I just like doing what I'm doing."
Hope You Didn't Miss
The Air Show, featuring four members of the Carolina Skydiving Team. The performers jumped from 5,500 feet, leaving ribbons of smoke in the air as they free-fell over the water and then steered their canopy parachutes to their mark in the festival's beer garden.
All four skydivers landed on solid ground, not the water or -- as one announcer noted -- the beer tents.
Better Not Miss
The transformation of the Waterfront Park Sunday for Children's Day, sponsored by Coastal Orthodontics. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the festival will belong to its pint-sized visitors, as the park offers free games, prizes, bounce houses, activities, and shows.
At 6 p.m., the park will hold its Teen Dance for ages 13 to 17, ID required. Admission to the dance, featuring DJ Donna, is $15. No entry after 8 p.m., re-entry, refunds, or outside food and beverages.
6-9 p.m., Waterfront Park.
Exploring the quaint downtown waterfront in Beaufort during #BeaufortH2OFest #SouthCarolina #lowcountry pic.twitter.com/5an3FxpPSu
The competitive edge: Ed Mahews and Alan Daigle teamed up to win the bocce tournament, followed in second place by the duo of Nick Hunt and Greg Mauriocourt
Championships were crowned in four divisions in the badminton tournament.
Davis Woods and Mcleod Reichel won the Junior Doubles division, Cole Taylor and Joe Stowe won the Teen Doubles division, Sylvain Fleury and Heather Fleury won the Mixed Doubles division and Michael Juliano and John Lavender won the Senior Doubles division.