Chichester Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge. Photo by Richard Gatley

2021 Chichester Dragon Boat Race: Crowds flock to banks of canal for Rotary event

Crowds flocked to the banks of Chichester Canal for the return of the annual dragon boat race after a year’s break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 10:22 am

The Chichester Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge on Sunday (September 26) saw ten teams battle it out on the water to raise money for CancerWise and other local charities supported by the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory. The atmosphere was electric, with competitors and visitors cheering along the water’s edge from the Canal Basin to Ponytz Bridge – some spectators arrived well before 10am to set up their chairs in pole viewing position.

Chichester Ship Canal Trust trustee Catherine Cannon said: “We missed the spectacle of dragon boats in 2020, so it was wonderful to welcome Priory Rotary, the teams and their supporters back to the canal for a super community event.”

Town crier Richard Plowman and Craig Gershater, bailiff to the City of Chichester, were on hand to present prizes to the winners. The Chichester SUP Club narrowly beat the Cancerwise Corkers in one minute, 1.06 seconds to claim victory – and also scooped the prize for best fancy dress with their 60s-themed outfits. In the junior class, the 1st Barnham Scouts Phantom and Ghost teams tied for first place in one minute, 10.51 seconds, so medals were awarded to both groups of youngsters. Other teams who took part were Tim’s Sunbeamers, You’d be a Wally not to, Royal Sovereign, Wiley’s Winging It, Canal Canardlies and The Real Redcaps.

Jill Dennison, from the Chichester Ship Canal Trust fundraising team, said: “With so many people enjoying what the canal has to offer, canal trust volunteers did a sterling job, especially those in the cafe, where the queue for refreshments snaked out the door. The trust also presented a heritage display and activities for children, which proved to be popular.”

Chichester Priory Rotarian John Watkins thanked the participating teams, the visitors, his Rotary colleagues and trust volunteers for a splendid day. He said: “It was also wonderful to see the Navy and Army entering teams. They are coming back next June and will be even more competitive!”

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