Video & Photo Gallery: Dragon boat racing at Downham Market Water Festival

As the nation celebrated its rowers' haul of gold medals at the London Olympics, Downham Market's finest crews fought it out paddle to paddle on the waters of the Relief Channel.

In the end, it was reigning champions Bristar Kings who triumphed, watched by hundreds of spectators at today's Downham Market Water Festival.

The Green Dragons from Cornerways Nursery came second and the Tulip Vikings third, while the Koni-Inuit explorer scouts took the junior honours. Pubs, churches, firms, RAF Marham and a doctor's surgery made up the boats' 12-person crews.

While some had clearly been practising, judging by their rhythmic rowing in time with their drummer, others were all at sea almost as soon as they left the jetty.

Sarah Mawby, events co-ordinator with Downham Market Town Council, said the council's boat made the most of home advantage by coming second from last this year.

'It's a vast improvement on last year,' she said. 'We had a tiny bit of rain but we have a brilliant turn-out, better than last year and the traders had a good day too.'

John Doyle, who was Mayor of Downham when the event was first held six years ago, said: 'The original intention was to highlight the river areas of the town because it's a very under-used space.

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'We were trying to get people interested in the river areas and that's what it's done. When we set it up, we set it up to be a free day for the people of Downham market and surrounding areas.

'People can come down and have a free day by the riverside and enjoy themselves.'

As well as being mayor when the first water festival was held, Mr Doyle notched up another first at the event.

'I have the accolade of being the only drummer to drum underwater,' he said. 'We finished the race and we turned too quickly and finished up underwater.'

Mr Doyle, as legend has it, continued playing - like the band on the Titannic.

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