IT WAS not just water jousting that brought hard-hitting action to the 161st Appledore and Instow Regatta.
A clash of boats in the most exciting race of the day resulted in a disqualification that threw open the battle for honours in the West of England Amateur Rowing Association (Weara) Championship.
Water jousting, in which two young men standing at the stern of rowing boats rained blows on each other with giant cotton buds in an attempt to knock them into the water, was one of the light-hearted regatta events entertaining hundreds of spectators lining Appledore Quay.
There was also a boat tug of war and a recreation of the Miller and Sweep Battle in which crews pelted each other with flour and water (instead of the traditional soot) bombs.
The serious action was in the middle of the estuary where Bideford Reds and Bideford Blues were among the clubs battling it out for points in the Weara Championship.
Unlike the water jousting, the clash was accidental in the women's junior 16 quads race but it was a knockout blow for the Reds.
They had been running neck-and-neck with the Blues girls over the closing stages of the 1,000-metre course, during which the coxes in both boats held their hands in the air to alert the umpire to an incident.
The Reds – Abby Jones, Libbie Willis, Jess Cox and Hannah Vincent – edged ahead on the line only for the officials to rule they were at fault for taking the Blues' water and causing a clash.
After beating the Reds for the first time this season at Paignton the previous week, the win for the Blues crew of Shannon Monaghan, Charlotte Berry, Kirsty Snow and Abbie Lawson cut their rivals' championship lead to just one point with three races remaining.
Reds had the better of the results on Sunday with six wins to the Blues' two – although it was Plymouth who left with the Nonsuch Trophy for the Championship of the River.
It was a two-horse Blues race in the women's junior 18 doubles, which saw the A crew of Annie Cook and Jessica Myers taking first place ahead of the B team.
The club also had second places in the men's novice doubles, mixed open fours and women's novice quads, and thirds in the women's junior 14 quads, men's senior c fours, men's junior 16 sculls, for Declan Monaghan, and women's novice quads.
Bideford Reds' junior 14 quad of Kayla Johnson, Georgia O'Connor, Olivia Pearce and Freya Vincent hold a three-point lead over pre-season favourites Paignton after winning yesterday's race.
The Reds took first and second in the boys' race by a distance from Plymouth.
The A crew of Isaac Crowther, Alex Dulalibi-Wilson, Jude Brittle and Jamie Norton won the race ahead of a mixed B crew to close the gap to just two points behind current leaders Dart-Totnes.
Other victories for the Reds came in the junior 16 quads through Dan Crowther, Nick Dulalibi-Wilson, Eden Brittle and Alex Rowland, with Wilson and Crowther also picking up a win in the corresponding double sculls.
There were also wins for the Reds' veterans and the senior B four of Adam Curtis, James Williams, Jon Lamont and Richard Prust.
The next regatta is at Torquay on Saturday, followed by Dartmouth and Bideford.