DRAGON boat teams dug deep during a fun-filled, adrenalin-soaked fundraiser in Worcester.

The air was filled with the pounding of drums for 26th annual "Race the Dragon" at Worcester Racecourse on Saturday as teams battled it out on the river Severn during the ultimate test of paddle power.

Twenty three teams competed against each other over 350 metres in a series of heats to raise funds for Onside which helps people across Worcestershire and Herefordshire who may be vulnerable, isolated or disadvantaged as a result of mental or physical disabilities, mental health problems or age-related illness.

It will take a few days before organisers know how much they have raised but last year's event raised thousands of pounds, not to mention the funds raised for other good causes by the individual teams taking part.

Teams came from all walks of life from police officers to schools and from businesses to charities and from good friends to teams from local pubs who swapped their pints for paddles.

With names like the Northwick Knights, West Mercia Five-0, Powered by Poultry, Top Banana and Team DyanmiQ, a self-confessed 'boat of boffins' from QinetiQ, everyone entered into the spirit of tongue-in-cheek rivalry which has helped make the fundraiser so popular and kept some teams coming back year after year.

The cup major winner (overall winner) was Camp Knights with a time of 1.31.33, beating Milner Electrical (1.31.89), and Southco Spartans (1.32.34). 

Milner Electrical also got fastest time of round one with 1.27.79, described by organisers as 'a very impressive time'. 

Boatylicious won the ladies competition and was also nominated for the Helen Cleaver Award (team spirit). 

Onsiders (linked to our nominated charity) won the junior award with a time of 1.45.10. 

Chairwoman of Worcester Dragons Max Allan said: "It's really good to get people out on the water and introduce them to our sport while raising money for charity. We try to get people to have a fun day out.

"What's really good about dragon boating is it's for everyone. We take anyone 12 years or over with older members in their 70s."

Two months free membership is offered to everyone who takes part to introduce them to the sport.

Among those to take part were a Nandos team made up of staff from a Worcester and Welsh branch of the restaurant.

The team included Alister Eaton, Tara Wilson, Matthew Wilson, Mary Nixon, Kate Flower, Tom Powell, Georgina McAdam, Kim Dallimore, Ella O'Shea, Sophie Francis, Harriet Tom, Joseph Cannon and Jodie Meats.

Mr Eaton said the team first got involved last year.

He said: "We found we really enjoyed it and thought we would come back this year and make it an annual thing."

The Wickes team from the store in Shrub Hill, Worcester, which described itself as 'a crack dragon boat unit sent to military court for a crime they didn't commit' also relished the challenge.

Tom Maysey said the team had been coming to the event for five years, finishing second in the cup two years ago.

He said: "It's a good day out. It's good fun as a bit of team-building. It's nice to do something different.

"You have to go against the current to get to the start line but coming down it's really easy. It's a good adrenalin-rush when everyone is lined up, when you're all ready to go."