Troubled Emsworth dragon boat race should now go ahead

DELAYED The Blue Bell Pirates during last year's races on the Mill Pond at Emsworth
DELAYED The Blue Bell Pirates during last year's races on the Mill Pond at Emsworth

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IT’S a case of third time lucky for a dragon boat race which has twice had to be cancelled at the last minute leaving hundreds of people disappointed.

Giles Babb, the landlord of The Blue Bell Inn, Emsworth, has his fingers crossed that the annual charity race will go ahead on September 8 with no hiccups.

It was originally scheduled for June but severe weather put paid to it.

It was then rescheduled for earlier this month but had to be pulled again because the Environment Agency drained the Mill Pond, where it is held, and it did not fill up again in time.

Scores of people who had signed up to the race were left disappointed.

But it’s back on track with 12 teams hoping to win the cup.

Giles said: ‘Hopefully it’ll be third time lucky and there will be enough water in the pond, sunshine and no rain.

‘Everyone who entered last time is still entered for this race.

‘We were a bit worried that everyone had lost momentum but it seems they are all still up for it and we will be more than happy to welcome more on the day.

‘The rivalry between the Blue Bell Pirates and Emsworth Sailing Club hasn’t diminished.

‘We still think we can beat them.’

Registration is at 9am – including new teams – and the first race is 10.45am.

In a statement the Environment Agency said of the earlier cancellation: ‘The water level in the pond is controlled by a tidal sluice for flood risk purposes.

‘The level was dropped to reduce the risk of flooding to properties upstream, in preparation for predicted heavy rainfall.

‘This together with neap tides meant that the Mill Pond was unable to be refilled to a level suitable for the dragon boat event.

‘We will continue to work together with the local flood forum and race organisers to ensure we balance protection of the Emsworth community from flood risk and support for the use of the Mill Pond for recreational use.

‘However our primary function is to protect the community from flooding and we cannot guarantee the Mill Pond conditions for the rescheduled event.’