700 contest annual crabbing contest

By David GreenIT was a love-hate day for crabs.They may have enjoyed lots of delicious meals, but the penalty for eating the titbits on offer was to spend two or three hours in the bottom of a bucket before being returned to the saltwater as they fell victim to participants in a famous crabbing contest.

By David Green

IT was a love-hate day for crabs.

They may have enjoyed lots of delicious meals, but the penalty for eating the titbits on offer was to spend two or three hours in the bottom of a bucket before being returned to the saltwater as they fell victim to participants in a famous crabbing contest.

There were 709 competitors - aged between three and 78 - and about 2,000 onlookers in this year' British Open Crabbing Championships, held yesterday afternoon in Walberswick.


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As some of the crabbers had been practising in the past few days, many of the local crustaceans could have been excused for heading for the open sea.

But crabs of all sizes and weights still could not resist the treats dangled before them and emerged from the water on the end of lines - to the delight of young and old alike.

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The make-up of baits used was closely guarded by the most experienced and wily of the competitors, although there was a strong smell at times of liver, bacon and various kinds of fish.

Despite a heavy downpour in the morning as the organisers were setting up, the 90 minutes of actual "crabbing" were dry apart from a shower in the last few minutes.

But participants and onlookers came well prepared for wet weather with all colours of rainproof gear - and one large plastic sheet could be seen protecting a whole group of people from the elements.

This year's British championship winner with a 4.25oz crab - was six-year-old Xanthe Lardner-Burke, from Shelford, Cambridge, who was taking part in the event for the first time.

As she mounted the rostrum to receive the trophy, a replica gold medal and cheque for £50, she became the 25th champion in the event's history.

Runner-up was Megan Baines, 10, from Clacton, whose crab was described as a "tad" over 3.5oz and third was Tasmin Kent, also 10, from Lowestoft, with a 3.5oz specimen.

Robin Buncombe, who organised the event with the help of 25 volunteers, said all the crabs that had come out of the water had been returned to their habitat.

"The best thing was that everybody had good fun. The crabs may have been a bit upset by all the goings on, but at least they enjoyed some good food," he said.

The prizes were presented by Ben Fogle, presenter of BBC television programme Countryfile, which also had a film crew at the event. The item on the crab championship is likely to be screened in about three weeks' time.

All proceeds from this year's event will be donated to the Mission to Seafarers.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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