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Thousands turn out for popular river race despite blustery conditions

PUBLISHED: 18:24 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:38 12 August 2019

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Thousands of people flocked to Downham Market Water Festival to see dragon boat racers battle each other, the wind and the 
rain.

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Returning for its 13th year, crowds gathered at the Hythe Bridge on the banks of the Great Ouse to watch 10 teams take to the water.

Teams raced down the Relief Channel in their dragon boats, with up to 10 people paddling each vessel, with a drummer beating a rhythm for rowers.

This year saw the return of memorable names, Boaty Mcdragon Face and Cirrhosis of the River, with new team, Dragon our Tails joining the mix.

Carl Tipling, captain of Dragon our Tails, said: "It's been excellent, the majority of the team are part of the King's Lynn Community Runners so we've done enough leg exercise and decided we need to work on our arms."

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Last year's winners were British Sugar.

Rob Mclaughlan from Cirrohsis of the River, who were the eventual victors, said: "We've been competing for three years, we were runner-up last year and came first the year before."

The team, representing the East of England Ambulance Service, has a healthy rivalry with British Sugar.

Mr Mclaughlan said: "We're hoping to get our title back this year from British Sugar. Although they're not competing this year, it would have been nice to take it from them. It's probably because they know we're competing.

One of the dragon figure heads on a boat during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the dragon figure heads on a boat during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"We enjoy doing it as it's something to do together outside of work and shows how well we can work together, we're a decent family."

In second place was the West Norfolk Rugby team and in third was Boaty Mcdragon Face.

A variety of stalls and entertainment lined the banks, adding to the atmosphere and guaranteeing a fun family day out.

Among the stalls was popular sweet cart, Wheely Sweet, run by Jordan Pywell, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Dragon boats make their way to the start line during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDragon boats make their way to the start line during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Becky Hayes, Downham Market's town mayor, said: "It's been lovely and it's really well attended considering the blustery conditions. It's great to see events in the arena and the variety of teams competing.

"It's the first time the town council haven't competed but it's nice to actually watch as you don't get time to see much when you're competing.

"My favourite part is the boat racing, I always route for the underdogs."

Commenting on the day's weather, Mrs Hayes said: "The winds seem to be helping push them down the river, so I suspect this year's times will be quicker."

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One of the dragon boat teams celebrate their finish during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the dragon boat teams celebrate their finish during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One of the dragon figure heads on a boat during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the dragon figure heads on a boat during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dragon boat teams eonjoying the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDragon boat teams eonjoying the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dragon boat teams eonjoying the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDragon boat teams eonjoying the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Determined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDetermined dragon boat teams work hard during the races at the Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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