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Making a splash at Paddle Round The Pier
AN EVENT is riding on a wave of success as some 45,000 people enjoyed a weekend of water festivities.
Paddle Round The Pier attracted thousands of families and watersports enthusiasts to Hove Lawns for a two-day festival.
More than 200 exhibitors set up camp off Kings Road and nearly 100 volunteers made sure the event was another triumph.
Event spokesman Richard Tuck said: “There really is something for everyone here whether it’s watersports or a bit of fun.
“It’s the largest free watersports event in the world, and people come from all around to be involved.
“The atmosphere is brilliant and it just showcases what a great place Brighton and Hove is.”
The event now covers around three-quarters of Hove Lawns, with Mr Tuck clocking up an incredible 27km of walking on Saturday alone.
Jason Brown, 27, had a shorter but more challenging task of travelling 1.2km on the sea using a homemade Star Wars raft in the fun ‘paddle something unusual’ category.
He was part of a nine-man crew on board the fire extinguisher-powered raft.
The youngest member of the team was Mr Brown’s nephew, who was so disappointed not to take part last year that he learned to swim especially so he could join his uncle’s crew.
The event originally started in 1996 and was restarted in its current form in 2006.
Mr Brown, who now also volunteers at the event, said: “I did my first paddle round the pier back in 1999 and have done it ever since.
“I got invited to the volunteers’ after party about six years ago and they’ve not let me escape since.
“It’s an absolutely brilliant event.”
Meanwhile, at the more serious end of the competition, Paolo Marconi picked up the winners’ medal in the ‘stand up paddle’ event on his first visit to England from his native Italy.
He was racing for pro team Jimmy Lewis, with owner Ian Phillips thrilled with his rider’s performance. He said: “I’m so chuffed for him – his family have come over from Italy to support him and it’s just such a brilliant event.
“We go to a lot of events that are quite serious, but there’s always such a relaxed vibe here in Brighton.
“That’s why we love it – it’s the best watersports event out there in my opinion.”
As well as the traditional races on the sea, there were hundreds of stands and stages on the lawns with revellers soaking up the live music and carnival atmosphere.
The Paddle Round The Pier administration team had to work overtime at the weekend because of the rough sea conditions.
Organisers had to postpone two events on Saturday and squeeze them in yesterday when the conditions on the sea were calmer.