Surf and smurf for massive Tonbridge Dragon Boat festival

Pam Mills

THE Tonbridge Dragon Boat Race, now in its sixth year, was hailed as ‘the best so far’ as hundreds of supporters lined the banks of the Medway by the Big Bridge to cheer on the competitors on Sunday [September 9].

The event, hosted by Tonbridge Town Team, is regarded as one of the highlights of the town’s calendar and coincided with the Medieval Fair on neighbouring Castle Lawn.

There were 24 teams taking part in the six hours of racing, each consisting of 16 rowers along with a drummer to keep rhythm over the 200-metre course.

The winner, for the second year running, were Boars with the Oars, a crew of teachers and staff from Tonbridge School.

In second place were the Bidborough Dragons, comprising past and present parents of Bidborough Primary School, with Stocks Green Pre-School in Hildenborough coming third in the showpiece final.

There was also a prize for the best-dressed team, which went to the Parkrun Smurfs from Manor Park Juniors parkrun in West Malling. All the teams were raising money for charities and worthy causes of their choice.

Sarah Spence, Dragon Boat Race Director, said: “We were delighted with the turnout. The festival atmosphere has never been as tangible as it was on Sunday and everyone had a fantastic time.

“Big thanks go to the teams that took part, the Town Team, the Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling Cllr Pam Bates for presenting the trophies, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council for their support and all our volunteers from the Lions who act as stewards. It was a brilliant day.”

Howard Porter, Chairman of the Town Team, said: “A huge amount of effort goes into this and all the events we put on in the town. This year’s races where probably the best so far and turnout was fantastic.

“This is a real team effort that brings so many people together to raise money for charity, have a great time and celebrate the wonderful community we have in Tonbridge.”

PICTURE: IN FULL FLOW: Boars with the Oars (foreground) win the Dragon Boat Race final on Sunday as hundreds watch PHOTO: Shilling Snaps

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