AN ANNUAL week of fun got off to a soggy start as funding was raised for the RNLI.

Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week launched into action on Saturday, opened by Dorset-based impressionist and actress Debra Stephenson, while taking refuge under an umbrella on Marine Parade. A new book by RNLI volunteer Richard Horobin, was also revealed on Saturday. The book, titled Lyme Regis Lifeboat Station, charts the history of a voluntary lifeboat service in the town from 1826 to the present day.

Among the many guests at the launch were Philip and Lisa Burgess who were rescued after the helicopter Philip was flying plunged into Lyme Bay in dense fog on Easter Monday, 1999. Lisa was expecting their daughter Charley-Nicole at the time, and she was also at the book launch.

The RNLI lifeboat crew staged its traditional welcome display along with the Coastguard helicopter, and the weather turned calmer ahead of the bathtub race.

The traditional bathtub race was contested by eight teams this year. The Dorset firefighters team, who have claimed the crown for six years on the trot, were forced into second place by a young team representing Lyme Regis Sailing Club and Lyme Rib Rides. The winners built a big lead over their rivals to take first place with their vessel, named Cat-Astropphe. Despite fitting a two stroke engine to their bathtub, strictly against the rules, the six men aboard the lifeboat station’s entry almost sank and had to give up.

A total of 85 competitors took part in the fun run with holidaymaker Ross Jones, 37, taking first place after completing the 3km run in seven minutes and 16 seconds.

The lifeboat crew lost the tug of war across the harbour entrance by two pulls to one. The hosts were defeated by a combined team from Lyme Regis Sailing Club and the town's football club.