Boat race to return... but this time no booze!

COMING HOME The Emsworth dragon boat race in 2004
COMING HOME The Emsworth dragon boat race in 2004

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FAMOUSLY, it ended in a bust-up, with the compere being tossed into the water.

But the Emsworth Dragon Boat Race will be returning to the town after a seven-year absence – and organisers say alcohol will be strictly off-limits.

The once-popular event on the Mill Pond hit the headlines in 2004 when two of the competing teams were disqualified for drinking alcohol.

One team staged a protest by sitting in one of the boats and refusing to budge until the competition was cancelled.

Marshals claimed they were verbally abused and the compere was hurled into the water, destroying his microphone.

But residents have now rallied round to revive the event.

This year’s race will be organised by Dragon Boat Events, which runs the Dragon Boat festival in Portsmouth every May.

Lorraine Clode, chairman of Emsworth Residents’ Association, said the fracas of 2004 should never be repeated.

She said: ‘One of the teams got a little bit too well-oiled before they rowed. Apparently the compere got tossed into the water.

‘Everyone said never again. This organiser has said they would never allow alcohol anywhere near the teams.

‘It’s a much more professionally organised event.

‘It’s a great opportunity for the teams to use it as a fundraising event. It brings people to Emsworth and it’s outside exercise, which people don’t always get.’

This year’s event will take place on Sunday, August 7.

The event sees teams race over a distance of 250m in the 40ft boats.

Each team has three races and depending on the number of entries the two or three teams with the best times go through to the final.

Gary Dickens, from North End, who will be organising the event, said: ‘We will not allow drinking while people are waiting to get on the boat.’

He added: ‘We will not be selling alcohol. What we can’t do is breathalyse every paddler who gets on the boat.’

There are a maximum number of 15 teams, with each team needing 16 members and a drummer.

For more information or to enter a team contact Brendan Gibb-Gray on (01243) 377355.