Around 30 groups of adult and junior competitors braved the 'traditional' bank holiday weather, but despite the increasingly grey skies only occasionally parting to bathe the race in sunshine, and a cooling wind driving a few rain squalls later in the day, tired but exhuberant entrants crossed the finish line to cheers from local crowds.
With a "Battle of the Bands" theme to coincide with the local live music competition final being held alongside the wharf in Victoria Park, the idea that this is fundamentally a fun event was clearly demonstrated in the costumes, decoration and smiles on display.
An early junior team are returned to the water by their support crew having clambered around the West Mills swing bridge. Juniors have an additional 7 locks to portage, adults have 10.
Able West Berks CC on the home run after paddling under Newbury Bridge.
Newbury MP Richard Benyon at the finish line, where he repeated his view that improved access to rivers and waterways is best achieved by local agreements.
Junior team #5: the Boatorhead rock crew. If you can't lay your hands on this much polystyrene...
...then a few plastic containers lashed to an old Rotobat did the job nicely for the air guitar girls.
The Boys Brigade make it to the finish despite a stern list to starboard, but anxiously look over their shoulders as they are closely followed in by...
...the Spice Girls!
The Black Eyed Pea
...a secret helmsman.
The twin torpedo of adult team #17 reaches the finish. Scary to think that 6 grown men would go out in public wearing such masks. The blue message on the side sadly proclaims "We love Louis Walsh".
The flower-power punks...
...and the peddle-powered lumberjacks.
Congratulations to all the participants, and to Newbury Round Table for their organisation and marshalling of an excellent event!
Edit: The final results are listed here with loads of additional pictures.