THE annual raft race made a splash as thousands of people flocked to Mudeford for an RNLI fun day.

Enthusiastic crowds gathered along the quayside on Sunday to watch as a string of homemade vessels contested a series of heats.

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Among those competing was a team from Broomhill Garden Buildings, led by self-styled master-builder Richard Wisdom, who said he was confident his innovative design would last the course.

“We have essentially up-cycled a conservatory roof,” he added.

Spectators Alan and Linda Ford, who live nearby and attend the fun day every year, marvelled at the efforts of some of those taking part and reserved special praise for a team dressed up as Smurfs.

“I love it and it can only be good for the town,” added Alan. “The event just seems to get bigger and better every year.”

An excited audience cheered on their favourites as they passed by the shore and offered encouragement to rafts which were struggling to stay afloat.

The major fundraising day for Christchurch's RNLI station also included a lifeboat display and an air show from the Blades Aerobatic team.

Music, entertainment for children and an array of food stands were also proving popular.

Christchurch councillor Lesley Dedman, who attended with her pet dog, Angel, heaped praise on the event's organisers.

“I enjoy it every year and it is lovely to see everybody having a good time,” she said. “It is a wonderful occasion and brings the area together.”

All proceeds will go to the lifeboat station, with organisers hopeful of improving on last year's 50th anniversary event, which raised more than £28,000.