Excitement as Portsmouth dragon boat race days near

ON THE WATER Dragon boat racers at last year's event
ON THE WATER Dragon boat racers at last year's event
Grace Hutton after the cut
Pictures by Ellie Pilmoor

Grace, from Cosham, says goodbye to hair in memory of mum while Leanne, from Gosport, did the same for cancer charities

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TEAMS are gearing up for an annual dragon boat racing fundraiser.

The event, run by Southsea Castle and Portsmouth and Southsea Rotary Clubs, is held at 1000 Lakeside in North Harbour.

It will see teams of novices race dragon boats to raise money for The Haven cancer charity, among others.

Carol Jenkinson, of the Rotary Club of Southsea Castle, said: ‘For the members who organise the event we end the weekend on such a high, knowing we’ve been able to help so many people raise thousands of pounds for charities.

‘This is our 11th year and it’s grown and grown. It’s been absolutely great.’

The boats are long canoes, elaborately decorated with a dragon’s head and tail attached.

There are wooden benches for the 16 paddlers, a drummer sits in the bow and at the stern is a fully-qualified helmsman.

In total, 10 per cent of the money each team raises will be donated to the Rotary-nominated charity, The Haven, which has a support centre based in Titchfield and is the UK’s only specialist breast cancer charity offering free one-to-one support.

Boats, paddlers, flotation jackets and full paddle and safety instructions are provided by the event organisers.

The racing consists of a series of heats with the fastest teams going into the finals.

The three fastest teams receive a trophy and medal and there is a prize for the best dressed team.

On the weekend there will be various sports activities, a children’s play area, charity tents and stalls, car dealerships, a licensed bar and much more.

The race takes place across Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 and anyone interested in attending as a spectator can do so for free. Anyone interested in entering a team should visit portsdragonboatfestival.co.uk