Rub-a-dub-dub, do you see those bathtubs? The ones speeding across the waters by Centennial Beach?
The inaugural Boundary Bay Bathtub Race and Festival was held last weekend, and although the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker did not participate, there were local businesses like Tsawwassen Collision, HVB Roofing, Budget Blinds and others.
James Latheron, a board member of the Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association (Sunny Tsawwassen) and owner of Southside Flooring, helped bring the event to our sandy beaches by bringing the idea to the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen.
A long-time tradition of the City of Nanaimo, the original 58-kilometre course (36 miles) across the Strait of Georgia began as a bathtub race from Nanaimo to Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove in 1967. The race continued each year, with the finish line at Kitsilano Beach, until 1996, when it became a solely local event. In recent years, the bathtub race has caught on with Vancouverites, and now it's come to the sunny shores of Tsawwassen.
James had seen the races while visiting Nanaimo, and was eager to see the event play out in the shallows of Boundary Bay. With a perfect vantage point for spectators, the race was held a few hundred meters off of Centennial Beach, where 15 racers could be seen vying for the prize.
"What we were excited about this year is that people could go down to the beach and put their lawn chairs in the water and see the racers come through," explains James.
Organizing an inaugural event is never easy, and this bathtub race was no exception. James said the Rotary Club had to take the proposal to four levels of government: The City of Delta, the province, the federal government, and Metro Vancouver, the latter body being the one which manages and operates Boundary Bay Regional Park.
Once they recieved the go-ahead, it was a frantic race to get the race ready in time. James says up to three quarters of the Rotary members—including those in the Ladner club—volunteered in some capacity to help make the event a success. The volunteering spirit went above and beyond Rotary. The Tsawwassen Order of Old Bastards (TOOB) donated 350 unsold cans of pop from their last event.
James Latheron (left) helps Chris Glenn get over to his family to celebrate finishing in a tie for first place.
Of course, as James points out, none of it would have been possible without the help of South Delta businesses, whether it be paying the $6,500 to enter the race, donating materials, or offering volunteer support.
"The local businesses, as always, stepped forward and helped us to fund the activities," says James. "It was just a real hometown effort from the local businesses to step up and ensure we had a great event."
When it came to the race's finish, it was a neck-and-neck dash between long-time tubbers Brian Stoochnow and Chris Glenn. But perhaps the biggest surprise occurred when Chris stumbled and fell into the water upon dismounting his boat. Rather than run to ring the bell as the clear winner, Brian waited and encouraged Chris to get to his feet.
Several people, including James, rushed out to help Chris, whose muscles had cramped up during the race, and together the two racers made their way to ring the bell and share the first place trophy.
Next year, James says the event will be part of a sanctioned tour, along with Nanaimo and Vancouver, putting Sunny Tsawwassen squarely on the bathtub racing circuit. With the proven success of this year's race behind them, the Rotary Club is hoping to add live music, fireworks and more in the years to come.