TOM Crew lifted the Men’s Blackbuoy Perpetual Challenge Cup for the fourth year in succession.

The talented swimmer completed the course in a time of 17mins 31secs to once again claim the trophy.

Weymouth’s Niall Laming had been the first swimmer over the finish line, clocking 16mins 41secs, but was ineligible to compete for the cup as he does not reside in Bridport or the surrounding villages.

Twenty-nine swimmers took to the sea for this year’s event, the first time the race has been swum on the first allotted weekend since 2007.

Early morning sea conditions were good but the forecast was for deterioration with an increasing wind speed and sea state.

The race got underway slightly later than planned because the Harbour Master first had to tow to safety a boat with engine failure.

Conditions inshore were quite good with the swimmers having to contend with a ‘light chop’ but as they approached the buoy the lead boat reported it ‘getting quite rough’.

Nevertheless, all swimmers completed the course and were back on the beach within 45 minutes.

For once, the dreaded Lyme Bay Tidal Curve was not in effect and the swimmers all maintained a straight line out and back.

Safety for the swimmers was provided by five RIBS which included the Lyme Bay Sea School Boat, the Lyme Bay Diving Club Boat and Mike Stoodley’s boat – the latter himself a six-time winner of the Men’s Cup.

Further safety was provided by 15 kayaks and the organisers are deeply indebted to those kayakers who turned out to support the race.

Second place in the Men’s Cup went to Tom Cooper with a time of 19mins 37secs and in third place was the winner’s brother, Marcus Crew (21mins 19secs).

For the second time in succession, the winner of the Ladies’ Cup was Sophie Dawe (19mins 54secs), who narrowly pipped Lauren Harrison (19mins 54secs) at the finish. Third place went to Caitlin Irish (21mins 14secs).

Winner of the Junior Boys’ Cup was Jonathan Greenwood (20mins 36secs) while Harrison claimed the girls’ equivalent.

The Men’s Masters Cup was won by Nick Neale, manager of the Bridport Leisure Centre, in a time of 25mins 12secs with the ladies’ prize going to Lyn Hockedy (36mins 12secs).

A spokesperson said: “The organisers of the Blackbuoy Cup would like to thank all those people who helped the event come together and especially the Harbour Master, James Radcliffe, without whom the race would not have been possible.

“We know that the Blackbuoy Cup was competed for in 1907 and the Delapre Cup in 1905 and it is good that these two traditional sea races are once more a fixture on the Bridport calendar.”