PICTURE GALLERY: Portsmouth Dragon Boat Festival

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WACKY racers enjoyed all the thrills and spills of dragon boat racing as a high-octane festival returned to Portsmouth.

There was plenty of paddling, splashing and cheers as hundreds of people joined the Portsmouth Dragon Boat Festival.

The Sassy Ladies in the red wigs race the Electric Slayers. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Sassy Ladies in the red wigs race the Electric Slayers. Picture: Keith Woodland

And this year’s offering was one of the biggest in the event’s 12-year history, with 27 teams battling it out in a series of heats on the lake of 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour.

Heading out on the water wearing a pink tutu was Hayley Ostler.

The 28-year-old, of Lee-on-the-Solent, was raising cash for FitzRoy’s Love4Life project that helps those with learning difficulties and disability find love.

She said: ‘Today has been great. There have been so many people down here cheering everyone on.

Portsmouth City councillors paddle to victory as the Nelson's Heroes team.  Picture: Keith Woodland

Portsmouth City councillors paddle to victory as the Nelson's Heroes team. Picture: Keith Woodland

Also taking to the lake were pals Sam Hard, 29, and Keith Callaway, 41. The pair were part of the Whiteley Warriors – made up of Rotarians from Whiteley Rotary Club – which aimed to raise £1,500 for Cancer Research.

Keith, of Hedge End, said: ‘I love it here. We have been champions three out of five years. It does actually mean quite a lot to try and win again.’

Sam added: ‘The banter is always brilliant.’

Sarah Newman was part of the Foster Portsmouth team and said the event was vital in spreading the word about the organisation.

The Petersgate Pirates staff from Petersgate infant school raising money for equipment. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Petersgate Pirates staff from Petersgate infant school raising money for equipment. Picture: Keith Woodland

She added: ‘Today’s been brilliant. It’s really great because it gives kids a chance to take part in charity events and have fun.’

The event was staged by Rotary Club of Southsea Castle with support from Portsmouth and Southsea Rotary Club.

Jerry Wilson, event chairman, said: ‘The festival is always a tremendous boost for the charities – we expect to raise between £15,000 and £20,000 this year.’

Mr Wilson thanked Lakeside for its help.

The NFG Heroes from Contractor Mortgages Made Easy raising money for the DePaul Homeless Charity. Picturet: Keith Woodland

The NFG Heroes from Contractor Mortgages Made Easy raising money for the DePaul Homeless Charity. Picturet: Keith Woodland