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Thousands enjoy dragon boat racing

PUBLISHED: 18:17 10 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:28 06 July 2010

A close contest in the dragon boat racing

A close contest in the dragon boat racing

Sunshine and blue skies drew thousands of spectators to the East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival at Oulton Broad today.

Although the fourth staging of the annual event attracted fewer entries to the competition than it did last year, organisers estimated that more than 4,000 people flocked to the festival.

Sunshine and blue skies drew thousands of spectators to the East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival at Oulton Broad today.

Although the fourth staging of the annual event attracted fewer entries to the competition than it did last year, organisers estimated that more than 4,000 people flocked to the festival.

Teams of 10 paddlers and a drummer took to the 200m course alongside Nicholas Everitt Park in calm conditions, cheered on by spectators lining the water's edge.

The fun event, based on the ancient tradition of Chinese dragon boat racing, saw crews representing business and organisations from across the region go paddle-to-paddle in 30-ft long brightly-painted boats. Some teams went to the extra effort of turning up in fancy dress, with the prize going to The Crystal Tips team from British Sugar, who dressed in toxic waste suits.

On the water the final saw Fishers Hotel take the trophy, with Absolutely Absolute from Absolute Mechanical in second, and Brenda's Boys from Sizewell “A” in third.

Race director Merklyn Hauck from Gable Events, which organised the event, said: “We've had an awful lot of families, it really has been a true family day out.”

Mr Hauck said a drop from last year's entry of 52 crews to this year's 28 teams mirrored the economic problems suffered by companies, but added: “It's still a big event and I think we have had more spectators than last year, more local people coming out and enjoying themselves, and that's what it's all about.”

He added: “We are definitely looking to stage it next year - we can't not with all the support we've had.”

Off-the-water attractions included an inflatable climbing wall, rodeo bull and funfair rides, as well as Chinese lion dance display, in keeping with the theme.

The event raised more than £15,000 for East Anglia's Children Hospices, which cares for children with life-threatening illnesses at home or at hospices in Quidenham in Norfolk, Ipswich and Cambridge.

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