THE wetter the better.

That was the outlook of hundreds of spectators who descended on Hythe Marina for this year's Great Waterside Raft Race.

Armed with super soaking water pistols and dozens of hand-held balloon water bombs, it was hard for anyone on the shoreline to stay dry as the competitive teams battled each other through the waves in the annual charity event.

Raising cash for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution - RNLI - the 19th raft race saw 13 teams take part in their creatively colourful rafts.

Paying homage to the cult television series and recent movie Dukes of Hazzard, the crew from the Malt and Hops pub took to the water in their own raft version of the famous orange car, the General Lee. Complete with the infamous Dixie Horn and fancy dress characters.

Other creative teams included the New Forest Community Church group who paddled across the waves in an animal laden Ark, a pirate-theme raft from the local pub the Jolly Sailor and a pool table raft from a Hythe-based snooker club.

Waterside Community Theatre promoted their latest play with a Jack and Beanstalk raft and the Instant Panto Theatre group promoted the Honeypot Children's Charity with their crew of pantomime characters.

Also among the teams was a BBC raft headed by former BBC South weather girl and regular raft racer, Alina Jenkins, who was also joined by New Forest MP Julian Lewis.

"It is a lot harder than it looks," said Alina after the race. "We had a bit of trouble as we came past the pier but once we had the wind behind us we really went for it."

"It is a fantastic event and really good fun to take part in. Everyone is up for a good laugh and it raises money for a good cause," she added.

Judge and organiser Jenny Croxon said the day was a great success. "We are hoping that after sponsorship from all the teams and the donations that we will have beaten our record amount of fundraising which is about £6,000."

All money raised from the event will go to supporting the RNLI's Hythe and Calshot branch.