TEAMS in fancy-dress frantically dredged oars into the River Thames as a favourite town tradition returned.

The Dragon Boat Festival sailed into Abingdon on Sunday with a fleet of fearsome-looking vessels, ready for a day of racing.

Competitors in 17 teams went head-to-head in timed heats, propelling themselves forward for 250-metre sprints.

Organisers said between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators lined the banks to cheer on the rowers, many of whom wore fancy dress or brightly-coloured costumes.

3 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, based at Dalton Barracks in Abingdon, claimed a double gold win as four teams vied for victory going into the final minutes.

Sharing the news on Facebook, the British Army regiment congratulated its team on a ‘fantastic effort’.

Organiser Paul Thompson said had been a 'fantastic day'.

He added: "We had some very enthusiastic teams and everyone seemed to have a great time.

"It got really competitive towards the end and there was only a minute and a half between the finalists.

"Many had never been in one of the boats before but we've heard of some practicing on their office floors in the run up to the race.

"We had four teams from the army and they picked it up very fast.

"They were very disciplined and good at keeping time with the beat of the drum.

"Many people think it will be the same as rowing but it's actually totally different so does take some time to get right."

The annual event is held by the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper at at Rye Farm Meadow, to raise money for several of their chosen charities.

Being held for the 19th time this year, the event has now raised approximately half a million pounds since its inception.

Causes set to benefit this year included the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, which will get half the proceeds from the raffle, and a selection of rotary project including taking disabled people out for trips on the river.

Spectators and competitors also got to enjoy craft stalls, a funfair, archery, a raffle and children’s entertainment.

There was also a barbecue and food and drink stalls, including a tea tent and real ale tent, to help replenish racers’ energy.

Last year’s winning team, the Wittenham Warriors, sported a flamingo-like look with bright pink feather boas.

Another group wore ancient Egyptian-style garb, while a team from Headington Road Runners dressed in a menagerie of animal onesies and adopted a greyhound mascot for the day.

Mr Thompson said work has already begun on planning for next year's event, on September 8, which will be the 20th held.

Despite this year being the 20th anniversary of the original event, the foot and mouth crisis forced the cancellation of the race in the early 2000s, meaning it has only been run 19 times.