Bring out your tubs, Delta.
On Saturday, Aug. 18, the community’s first bathtub race will take place in Boundary Bay.
Put on by the Tsawwassen Rotary Club, the event will feature boaters in tubs (small speedboats with outboard motors, built around a bathtub) racing from Centennial Beach to the Point Roberts marker and back. So far, around 20 boaters have signed up to compete, although more could join as race day nears.
The event will be similar to the famous Great International World Championship Bathtub Race, put on by the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society,where competitors race their tubs in a one-mile loop around the waters off Nanaimo.
For 30 years, the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race went between Nanaimo and Vancouver’s Kitsilano beach. However, that changed in 1996 when the Vancouver Sea Fest was discontinued and the race became a circuit in Nanaimo waters.
This year marks the first Lower Mainland bathtub races in 22 years, with the Delta event on on Aug. 18 and another in Kitsilano on Aug. 11.
The goal, coordinator and Tsawwassen Rotary Club member Leslie Abramson said, is to help create a circuit of races for Vancouver and the Island. It already seems like the interest is there. On Sunday, July 22, Abramson was at the Ladner market with the Rotary’s boat to promote the event.
“I could not believe the number of people that would come up and say ‘I used to go from Nanaimo to Vancouver,’ or ‘I was the chase boat,’ or ‘I was hung-over from the party after,’” she said. “There was so many people that had either been involved with it or remember the good times from the bathtub race.”
Because of the popularity of the races on Vancouver Island, Abramson said the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society has arranged to transport racer’s tubs from Nanaimo to the mainland if they wish to compete in the two Metro Vancouver races. A farmer has donated their field to store the boats between the Vancouver and the Delta races.
The Delta event will begin at noon on Aug. 18 at Centennial Beach — because parking is limited, a shuttle bus will be travelling every half hour from Southpointe Academy in Tsawwassen to Centennial Beach, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Beforehand, visitors will be able to view the boats and speak with the racers. Then at 1 p.m., the race will start.
According to Abramson, the tide will be low enough that people will be able to stand in the water and watch.
Although the race will be the focus of the event, Abramson has also been planning some big activities for the festival, which will take place during the early afternoon at Centennial Beach before moving over to Diefenbaker Park at 4 p.m.
“We’re trying to get lots of different things that aren’t normally here,” Abramson said.
Before and after the race, people will get a chance to try flyboarding (a type of water-propelled jet pack), and possibly see a simulated sea rescue by a Navy Sea King helicopter.
When the festivities moves to Diefenbaker Park, the plans are more elaborate. The party will feature a beer garden, face painting, food trucks, an elaborate obstacle course for kids and parents, human spheres, a gymnastics demo and a concert by the Beatles tribute band Fab Fourever.
Starting at 8:45 p.m., the rotary will also be showing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as part of its outdoor movie series. The festival will wrap up around 11 p.m.
Abramson has been planning the race and festival since January, and the entire Rotary has been working on the project since May. But she’s hoping for even bigger things for next year.
“Everybody is getting involved,” she said. “Hopefully the whole community is going to be behind this. It could be really big.
“We’re looking at maybe next year doing a rib fest in connection to this and maybe making it more than one day.”
“You gotta think big,” she continued. “And then if it comes off medium, you’re okay.”
For more information, visit rotarybathtubrace.ca. To register your boat in the race, contact James Latheron at 604-209-5347 and make sure your boat follows the official rules posted on the event page.