A FANCY dress row and gig race brought hundreds to Maldon’s Hythe Quay and Promenade at the weekend.

The 2019 Sponsored Row and Gig Race saw 155 rowers and 64 vessels take to the River Blackwater to raise funds for the RNLI.

Spectators and clubs raised more than £9,000 at Saturday’s event.

Organiser John Rogers said: “We could not have asked for a better day. The weather was calm and mild, and a fantastic atmosphere prevailed throughout.

“It was wonderful to see the river alive with so many boats, from the smallest paddleboard to the huge whaler ‘Millie’, rowed by ten members of Burnham’s lifeboat crew.

“It is also encouraging to see the under-16 Cadets taking part and the huge fancy dress effort made by so many crews.

“It was good to see a big contingent of kayaks from Maldon Yacht Club who, with their SoS – Save our Sailing – slogan, taking the opportunity to bring to public attention their plight over the future of their sailing club, whose lease is threatened with termination by Maldon District Council.”

The event was hosted by Maldon Little Ship Club and lived up to its promised spectacular as crews took off from the Viking Saga jetty.

The large four-man gigs started first and headed down the river to a turning mark by the Blackwater Sailing Club.

Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and dinghies then rowed to the end of the prom before they turned upstream to Fullbridge.

Many of the crews wore elaborate fancy dress, ranging from Swan Lake to Bikers and Frozen themes.

The flamboyant Basin Oars ladies crew, representing Rule Britannia, raised an amazing £4,500 of the total.

Numerous safety boats andWest Mersea lifeboat added to the nautical interest on the river, pleasing the huge crowds of spectators who lined the prom and quay

Mr Rogers added: “I would like to thank Maldon Gig Rowing Club and all the people and businesses who have supported this event and helped to make it happen.

“MLSC is particularly indebted to Blackwater Sailing Club, Marinestore, Downs Road Boatyard, Landbreach, Hoskin Insurance, Topsail Charters, Essex Community First Aid Event Volunteers, Blackwater Printing, 6791 Engineering Services and also Maldon District Council who allowed the event to take place.

“I would also like to thank Maldon Town Council for their support and mayor Flo Shaughnessy for judging the fancy dress and presenting the prizes.

“Finally I would like to thank all the individual rowers for their enthusiastic support and enjoyment of being part of Maldon’s unique maritime heritage.”