Bathtub races to return to Vancouver after 22-year absence from Kits Beach
Published Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:12AM PST
A unique West Coast tradition will return to Kitsilano Beach next summer thanks to a unanimous vote from Vancouver's park board.
The board voted in favour Monday night of once again hosting a bathtub race at the beach, a 30-year-long tradition that ended in 1996.
Bathtub racing – where competitors race using bathtubs with motors attached – began in Nanaimo, B.C., and the first Great International World Championship Bathtub Race was held in 1967. For decades, boaters began the course in Nanaimo and finished on Kits Beach, but the races haven't been held in Vancouver waters since the mid-90s.
The event's early days featured long-time Nanaimo mayor Frank Nay dressed as a pirate. A statue of the mayor decked in sea-faring garb stands in a Nanaimo park as a memorial.
Howard Kelsey with the Canada One Athletic Foundation remembers Nay's costume and the finisher's bell rung by racers fondly.
He and the rest of the group were inspired to bring outboard motor bathtub races back to English Bay, not to compete with the races still held in Nanaimo but to compliment the Island event.
On Monday night, the board approved a special event permit request made by the organizers, which will feature between 10 and 20 motorized tubs competing on a circuit at the north end of the beach.
The all-ages race is planned for Saturday, Aug. 11 between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
"One of the things this board has been trying to do is bring the fun back to Vancouver," commissioner John Coupar said of the approval.
Kelsey said he was ecstatic after learning the verdict.
"We've been tinkering with it ever since they actually stopped the race… 'Why hasn't anybody ever done this again?'"
The exact route has not yet been determined, nor have the rules and regulations, but organizers said spectators at Kits Beach will be able to see the entire race. They'll also be able to enjoy a drink at the beach thanks to a previously-approved liquor permit.
"It's amazing. It caters to all ages, to all categories of people. It's just a fun event," Kelsey said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure