THOUSANDS of people headed for Poole Quay for the annual New Year’s Day bath tub race.

Despite a morning of heavy rain, the clouds parted just in time to allow spectators to see weird and wonderful crafts of all shapes and sizes take to the water.

Most were unrecognisable as bath tubs with variations on the theme ranging from a full-size bouncy castle and a regal-looking horse and carriage to a traditional pirate ship and a Batmobile.

Before the race started, all teams were involved in a battle with eggs and flour. They soaked each other by splashing with their oars and some even hurled eggs into the crowds of onlookers.

But some of the spectators were ready for the onslaught and had come prepared with their own boxes of eggs and water balloons.

Flares were set alight and the quay lit up with a blaze of colour.

There was the usual confusion at the beginning of the race with some not appearing to notice it was under way.

And there were teams whose crafts ended up a lot lower in the water than they had hoped.

But, as usual, the event was great fun and enjoyed by the huge crowd that turned out to watch.

The bath tub race brings thousands of pounds worth of business to Poole every year and also raises large amounts for charity. It is organised at the Blue Boar pub.

Spectator Mike Riley, visiting from London, said: “We stumbled across this event a couple of years ago and the whole family enjoyed it.

“Since then we have used it as an excuse to get away for New Year and spend some time in Poole and also in Bournemouth.

“We were a bit worried when we heard it might not go ahead but we’re very glad it did.”

The event was put in doubt when health and safety issues threatened to send it down the drain just days before Christmas..

Poole Harbour Commissioners announced that they were not going to allow the event to go ahead, leaving organisers furious they had not been given enough notice to satisfy the safety requirements.

The decision was met with outcry on social media and the Commissioners changed their minds and agreed to allow the race if all the safety requirements were met.