ENTRIES have opened for one of the biggest and most exciting free outdoor events of the year in West Somerset – the RNLI Blue Anchor to Minehead raft race.

Event organisers the Minehead lifeboat crew have a particular interest in ensuring that the August 17 challenge is a financial success because this year they are hoping to improve on the £31,000 total they managed to bring in for RNLI funds last year.

It was the first time they had taken over responsibility for the main fundraising activities at the station after the closure of the local lifeboat supporters’ guild.

Minehead’s two-lifeboat station costs around £100,000 a year to run.

Crews say they are delighted by the public’s response to the various money-making events they have already organised.

Organiser Derek Williams said: “River racing has its own challenges, but they’re nothing like those this particular course can throw up.

“The race has acquired a bit of a name as the one to go for, and happily for us the support shows no sign of tailing off.”

The race starts from Blue Anchor with novelty entries competing over a shorter course from Warren Point to Minehead harbour.

The event will also feature street entertainment and an evening fireworks display at Minehead harbour.

All profits will go to the RNLI. Anyone wishing to enter can find out more by calling 01643- 709392.