Fun in the sun at Looe's 'Great Raft Race' day

Thousands flocked into Looe on Sunday, on the warmest day of the summer so far, for the town's fourth 'Great Cornish Raft Race', organised by the Looe and Polperro Chamber of Trade and Commerce. There were 29 entries overall and the day was hugely successful and entertaining.

So popular has the event become, that not only is it now firmly entrenched into the annual calendar at Looe, it is also a must for visitors from far and wide. By mid morning the East Looe car parks were full, as was the Millpool over in West Looe, where a space can normally be found, even at the height of the summer season. However, Caradon's generous offer of free parking for the day was obviously a much welcomed attraction for which the Chamber were most grateful.

Profits from the event totalling £300 have been donated towards the upkeep of Looe's former lifeboat The Ryder, now restored and kept at Polperro' s Heritage Museum. The old boat was rowed into the bay especially for the event.

Special guests were popular Westcountry Television presenters Richard Bath and Alison Johns, who were given the task of starting the main race from East Looe Beach. There was much good hearted jostling and splashing as the competitors lined up, being given a noisy send off from the crowds on the shoreline and those on the Banjo pier, who had a birds eye view of the rafts, some paddled more expertly than others, as they turned into the river.

The crowds were lined up all along the quays, and the bridge had been packed with spectators for some time, patiently waiting for perhaps the best view of all as the 'wacky racers' furiously paddled up river with the incoming tide behind them.

First home in the adult speed class was 'Ambrosia' a team from Lifton in Devon, and the barrel class was won by the Stuart Renfree team from Saltash. Best fancy dress was the 'Fish Tank' (Looe).

The children's races, equally exciting, were started from Little Beach in the harbour, speed winners being Daniel Margetts' team, and the barrel class winners were 1st Looe Scouts. Fancy dress winners from Looe were The Red Devils, who most thought were the best of all.

The first 'all girls raft' to cross the line was entered by Hillcrest House, Looe, and the Services Trophy was won by the Royal Navy's slightly unseaworthy 'Fish Tank'.

All competitors received a welcome pasty at the end of their intrepid journey, and trophies and prizes were presented by Richard Bath and Alison Johns at the evening disco in the Boscarn Hotel. They both said how much they had enjoyed their day in Looe.

Leading up to the main event of the day, there had been many other attractions taking place on the seafront and beach. These included a performance from Sheila's School of Dancing, and the popular return of Firebirds International, a professional cabaret act. The Miller Brothers and Laura Lou's Fun Run for children attracted 36 entries, and scores of youngsters scoured the beach for buried golf balls, local traders putting up 200 prizes for this event alone. The Warehouse Pavement Artists Competition was equally as popular, attracting 48 entries.

Chamber Chairman Dave Peat, and race committee member Dave Howells, main organisers of the raft races, say they are delighted with the turn out and by the excellent support, both in donations and manpower, by the businesses of Looe and Polperro, without whom the event would not be able to take place. The main sponsors were SECTA, Hannafore Point Hotel and Looe Bay Holiday Park, and they are also grateful to Edwina Arkell of 'the artworks' for help with publicity.

The full results were: Raft races (sponsors in brackets) - Adults: speed, Ambrosia , Lifton (SECTA Cup), Double Decker, Looe (Courage Shield), Ambrosia, Lifton (Looe Marine Services). Barrel class, Stuart Renfree, Saltash (Roger Norman Insurance), S R Mounce, Launceston (Kellys of Looe), Dave Peat Waste, Looe (Valerie and Sue Smallridge); fancy dress, Fish Tank, Our Father, Viking Boat (all Looe); All girls raft, Hillcrest House, Looe; Service Trophy, Fish Tank, Royal Navy.

Children's classes - speed, Daniel Margetts, Looe, (Dave West Cup), Luke Dawson Wallace, Liskeard (Looe Bay Holiday Park), Kelly, Kay and Carla, Duloe (Dave Howells Recovery); Barrel class, lst Looe Scouts (Grapevine), J Gillespie and D Minn, Morval (Looe Taxis), Daniel Marshall, Looe (Chris Sandy); Fancy dress, Red Devils, Storm Troopers and Teenage Terrors, all Looe. There was one disqualification as the competitors were not equipped with life jackets.

Fun run: 10-14 years, girls, Kiri Philips, 12yo from Tencreek, under 10, Maride Snell, 8yo from Churchlands; 10-14 years boys, Jonathon Jones, 12 yo from Meadway, under 10, David Elsten, 9yo from Seaton.

Pavement Artists - Christie Phillips (Looe In Bloom), Finola Harrison (lighthouse), Rebecca Newell, Tania Aldis (palm trees).