Thousands turn out to watch crews battle it out in the annual Hartlepool raft race

More than 1,000 people headed to the Hartlepool coastline to watch crews take to the sea to battle it out in the annual raft-making race.

Eight brave groups took to the icy waters to take part in the highlight of the town's annual carnival - each hoping to stay afloat on their homemade crafts.

1st Hartlepool Boys Brigade in their Pacman outfits

1st Hartlepool Boys Brigade in their Pacman outfits

Dressed in a range of fancy dress costumes, from stormtroopers to Vikings each had to row their way out to sea, round an obstacle and back to the shore where more than 1,000 people of all ages were stood watching their antics.

Following a delayed start, the race, supported by the RNLI, finally got underway with each team taking to the waves.

It was a quick start for the 1st Hartlepool Boys Brigade who were eager to regain the winning crown. The team, dressed as the video game Pacman, set off steaming ahead of their competitors.

Meanwhile, the team of Vikings - a group of mates from the Headland, had a battle on their hands as their raft capsized as they tried to climb aboard.

The Vikings capsize as they set off to battle

The Vikings capsize as they set off to battle

Determined not to give up the winners from last year, finally got on their way.

Paul Craggs, Captain of the Boys Brigade, said: "We're glad we've got the title back.

"It's brilliant, fantastic.

"We have taken part in the event for more than 20 years. It's just a regular event that we do - it's just a bit of fun.

The Girls Brigade were chosen as having the best costume by Hartlepool's Mayor and Mayoress

The Girls Brigade were chosen as having the best costume by Hartlepool's Mayor and Mayoress

"We came second last year, so we were determined to come first."

Ahead of the crews setting sail, the Mayor of Hartlepool Coun Paul Beck and Mayoress Mary Beck chose the best dressed team. It was won by the girls brigade who had chosen to dress up as characters from Alice in Wonderland.

Mayor of Hartlepool Coun Paul Beck said: "The turnout is absolutely fantastic. But you always do expect a good turn out on the Headland as they really know how to enjoy themselves.

"It is such a fantastic event and a huge thank you to the organisers for putting in the time to make this event happen.

Thousands of people of all ages headed to the shores of Hartlepool to watch the annual raft race

Thousands of people of all ages headed to the shores of Hartlepool to watch the annual raft race

"It's fantastic to see so many people turn out year after year and giving it, their full support."

As well as the raft race, bands also took to the stage to entertain the crowds as part of the Hartlepool Carnival which was organised by the Hartlepool Carnival committee and The Pot House pub.