ONE of Hampshire’s biggest spectacles is taking to the water again after a one-year gap caused by the Covid crisis.

The Great Waterside Raft Race is being staged tomorrow, when a wacky collection of homemade craft will tackle a square-shaped course between Hythe Marina Village and the pier.

Hundreds of spectators are expected to line the foreshore to watch the action and see who gets a soaking.

Racing is due to start at 11am, with trophies being presented at 2.15pm by broadcaster and historian Dan Snow, 42, who lives nearby.

Launched more than three decades ago the fun-filled event is organised by the Hythe and Calshot branch of the RNLI and in 2017 alone raised almost £8,000 for the life-saving charity.

The 2018 race was cancelled just 48 hours before it was due to take place.

Organisers scrapped the contest after forecasters warned the area would be battered by heavy rain and strong winds, sparking fears that rafts, tents and marquees would come to grief in the stormy conditions.

The race returned in 2019 but last year's event fell victim to the pandemic.

In a message issued to competitors and spectators ahead of tomorrow's contest the organisers said: "The raft race is back - and we want it to be bigger and better than ever.

"This year we will not be charging entry fees so there’s no excuse not to get involved. We just want people to have a good time and forget the headache we have all had over the last year.

"The day offers a fun day out to be enjoyed by spectators as well as participants.

"Our event is one of the few raft races that is held on the sea, which adds an element of excitement not found on river races.

"The course is set out between Hythe Marina and Hythe Pier and is always held between the two high tides unique to the Solent area."

Despite the event's title there are actually six races including contests for decorated rafts and "Formula 1" craft, plus an event for women-only crews.

A safety boat will be provided by Aquawaves and two inflatable boats from Calshot lifeboat station will also be on hand.