Silly sailing fun as Dragon Boat racing returns to Emsworth

112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''Blue Bell Pirates (pictured) finished first in their first contest against Dragon Den-tists (on right hand edge of frame). '''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-090)
112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''Blue Bell Pirates (pictured) finished first in their first contest against Dragon Den-tists (on right hand edge of frame). '''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-090)
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TEAMS from across Emsworth battled it out on the high tides of the Mill Pond in a bid to claim the title of Dragon Boat champions.

Twelve teams from pubs, a care home, a dentist and a veterinary surgery raced each other yesterday.

112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''Pictured, Blue Bell Pirates paddle towards Emsworth to win their first contest against Dragon Den-tists. ''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-111)

112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''Pictured, Blue Bell Pirates paddle towards Emsworth to win their first contest against Dragon Den-tists. ''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-111)

Emsworth Sailing Club was victorious with a time of 1min 20sec, followed closely by the Blue Bell Pirates in second place and Sooty Dragons in third.

Giles Babb, landlord of The Blue Bell Inn, in South Street, was in the second-placed boat.

He said: ‘It didn’t matter that we didn’t win, although the winning team did have the advantage of being a lot younger and lighter than us.

‘It was the most amazing day with the most brilliant community spirit.

112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''The Lord Raglan public house Dragon Boat team. ''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-130)

112805_DRAGIN_RACES_07/08/11''The Lord Raglan public house Dragon Boat team. ''Dragon Boat racing on the Mill Pond at Emsworth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112805-130)

‘Afterwards all the teams in the final came back to my pub for a free drink.

‘We chose to raise money for the RNLI and have hit £500 worth of T-shirt sales so far – we hope to hit £600.’

The event saw teams compete over a distance of 250m in the 40ft boats.

Each team had three races and the three teams with the best times went through to the final.

Pete Mahoney, the landlord of The Lord Raglan, in Queen Street, was joined by staff and punters on his boat, all dressed as characters from Toy Story, and the runners from the 118 adverts.

They came fifth but were happy with that.

Mr Mahoney, 33, said: ‘We had such a brilliant laugh and the organisers said we embodied the spirit of the race.

‘It was really jovial and fun. We knew we had no chance of winning but we certainly took part in the spirit of the race.

‘All the punters came down to watch and cheered us on. It was great fun.’

This weekend’s event was the first Dragon Boat Festival in Emsworth since 2004, when some teams were disqualified for being drunk and went on to hurl the organiser into the water, destroying his microphone.