Published: 09:00, 03 May 2021
| Updated: 09:18, 11 May 2021
Ahoy there, shipmates! Freemasons really did roll their trouser legs up for a quick paddle for the launch of the Great East Kent Boat Race.
Nearly 200 model boats set sail from five Kent beaches yesterday (Sunday) in aid of charity.
The boats were all launched into the sea at 5pm to coincide with high tides. Each vessel, which had been allocated its own name, had to be assembled from a kit and then hand-painted. They were all made from wood with cotton sails and so are biodegradable.
He rolled up both trouser legs as he waded into the waves to launch his two entries, Tranquil Bird and Scarlet Fantasy. He said sternly: "I am quietly confident having undertaken some secret modifications of my own."
He had flicked through the rule book and discovered he could add twin keels to the hull and a main sheet to keep the mini-mainsail on the diddy dinghy in line.
At The Leas at Minster many gently placed their boats into the water but others adopted a completely different technique and just hurled them into the sea as far as they could throw. John South, meanwhile, launched his using a fish rod. Some mumbled darkly that they thought that was "cheating".
Registration officers took photographs and sent images to a GPS website to record the start of each vessel.
Competitors will be able to log the progress of their boats using camera drones which will be flying over the shorelines. The winner, whose boat sails the furthest by Wednesday will receive £100. There are runners-up prizes of £75 and £50.
Proceeds will go towards the East Kent Province 2025 Festival in aid of the Masonic Charitable Fund.
The winners were: 1. Ron Davis with Silver Rocket launched from Margate; 2. David Pearson with Diamond Skylark launched from Dover; 3. Philip Green with Hopeful Redwing launched at Hythe and 4. John Sampson with Chestnut Rocket launched at Herne Bay.
High winds meant the operation of drones to monitor the entries was compromised but a boat was hired for two days to scour the seas for any models still floating. Those recovered could be kept by their launchers as souvenirs.