The Rotary Club of Bideford?s Morris Poole and Jacquie Willoughby are encouraging people to get into the pirate spirit and build a cardboard boat - Credit: Atlas Packaging

Bideford Water Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta returns this July

Joseph Bulmer

The famous Bideford Water Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta returns to the River Torridge on this July.

It is time to hoist the Jolly Roger and get involved if you fancy creating a pirate themed cardboard boat.

All the action starts at Midday on Sunday July 24th so potential pirates need to start building their boats now to plunder the prizes and try not sink to the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker!

Organisers, the Rotary Club of Bideford, are delighted the event is to return after they had to cancel the previous two years due to COVID.

But, as publicity officer Jacquie Willoughby explains, they are planning for the biggest Water Festival yet: “Last year we had to cancel the whole Bideford Water Festival after people had begun making their cardboard boats because of changes to the easing of lockdown restrictions so we’d like those people to re-enter this year and we’re encouraging many more ‘Landlubbers’ to build a boat and join in the fun.

“We are also hoping everyone with a pirate eye-patch, a parrot or a wooden leg will come and enjoy the entertainment too!”

The rules and all the entry details are available on the Bideford Rotary website.

Only un-waxed cardboard can be used for the construction of the boats with no additional materials to create extra buoyancy incorporated into the structure; joints and seams can be taped or glued and the cardboard painted for decoration.

Water Festival sponsors Atlas Packaging in Barnstaple have kindly offered to donate cardboard, with participants encouraged to say ‘Ahoy There’ when they call the cardboard box makers.

Water Festival Co-Ordinator, Morris Poole, says: “We’re delighted that Atlas Packaging are continuing to sponsor Bideford Water Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta. They’ve generously donated cardboard to participants in previous years and will do so again this year. Call their reception on 01271 344055 and Supply Chain Manager Phil Sweetland will do his best to accommodate.”

Programmes will be available around the town prior to the event but full details will also be on the website www.bidefordrotary.uk and the Bideford Water Festival Facebook page.

Cardboard boats need to be available for scrutineering at Midday on July 24 at the opening of the festival.

Activities on the water begin at 2pm including not only the crazy cardboard boat racing but also a pirate-themed Paddleboard race; a rally of vintage steam boats; sailing dinghies and gig racing.

With Bideford Quay full of stalls supplying food, drink, crafts and other entertainment, it looks set to be a pirate day to remember-arrrrr.

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