HUNDREDS of enthusiastic spectators lined the banks of the River Stour on sunny Saturday as Christchurch Rowing Club held its annual regatta.

A stiff northerly wind kept temperatures down and made for some exciting racing in the latest edition of the Hampshire Henley, so named because, like the Henley course, the Stour is only wide enough for two boats at a time.

First held in the early 1900s, the regatta in its current form has been run since 1948.

This year it attracted 10 coastal teams from Hampshire and Dorset: Bournemouth University, BTC RC, Christchurch, Coalporters, Itchen Imperial, Lymington ARC, Poole ARC, Ryde RC, Southampton ARC and Southsea ARC.

With 65 races and the action starting a little late just before 10am, the excitement on the water did not finish until well after 5pm.

Reaching speeds of around 10 knots, rowers skimmed down the 1,000-metre course which started near Wick Ferry, to Claypools, around two buoys and returned upstream to the finish outside the club house.

There were some tight finishes which produced loud cheering from the banks, not least of which was for the second Christchurch Junior 16 team to qualify for the final after overhauling BTC in the last few metres.

Christchurch Rowing Club president Colin Neighbour said of the day's racing: "For us it's an average result, I should think. But as far as the running of the regatta in concerned, it's good."

As well as the home rowers, Christchurch fielded a great team of helpers who kept a steady stream of hot dogs, Pimms and beers flowing throughout the day to help raise money for club funds.

Following the racing there was a disco for celebrations - and for commiserations.

Scull-and crossbones

ENGLAND may not have won the world cup, but the crowd lining the route of Christchurch Carnival procession Saturday evening enjoyed some great sporting moments.

Biggest sports were the lads of the Twynham Rangers football club who swapped their team shirts for mini skirts to play the WAGS while their own wives, girlfriends, mums and sisters wore the soccer strip.

There was big film action from the Star Wars-themed B-Wing fundraisers group (who won one of the cups for their efforts) or the Christchurch Leos playing Pirates of the Caribbean.

Medical drama was provided by the Hospital Radio Bedside team; Ivo the Clown broadcast his own brand of family fun and for devotees of the Wings channel the Brylcreem boys of Christchurch Air Training Corps staged a Spitfire flypast with a scale replica of the famous fighter.

Saturday night - and Christchurch Carnival - would not be the same without a touch of glamour and this year's procession had a bigger than ever bevy of beauties with more than a dozen carnival queens, princesses, ladies in waiting, maids of honour and attendants from as far afield as Southampton and Swanage.