A man paddles his giant pumpkin boat during the traditional pumpkin race in Lohmar, Germany. Picture: David Sahl/Reuters
A man paddles his giant pumpkin boat during the traditional pumpkin race in Lohmar, Germany. Picture: David Sahl/Reuters
Picture: David Sahl/Reuters
Picture: David Sahl/Reuters
Picture: David Sahl/Reuters
Picture: David Sahl/Reuters

Lohmar, Germany - With a look of apprehension, a blond woman clad in a wetsuit wobbles her way onto a lake in western Germany in a huge, hollowed-out vegetable.

Paddle held aloft, she's a contestant in the Krewelshofer lake's annual pumpkin race, held for the third time on Wednesday over a 35-metre (115-ft) course.

Grown specially for the race, the pumpkins must weigh at least 250 kilogrammes (550 pounds) and, to minimise the risk of capsizing, more for heavier participants.

"It was hard fighting against the wind to get anywhere, but when you are in the groove it works. I imagined it would be more difficult," said competitor Mailin Matuschek.

"I actually thought that after a few metres you would fall in," chimed in her sister Jana-Mai.

The fastest racers in six categories get 200 euros ($230) in prize money, or 300 euros if they paddled in their own pumpkins - enough to buy a boat for next year.