The 50th Bathtub race was the fastest ever.
Nanaimo’s Justin Lofstrom is the new champion and the top three tubbers all broke the previous record time at the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race on Sunday.
Lofstrom rang the bell in one hour, seven minutes, which was 64 seconds ahead of runner-up Chris Glenn of Port Coquitlam. Last year’s champ Nathan Barlow was third, 1:34 off the pace.
Lofstrom, who has been racing for 12 years, said it was awesome to earn his first win.
“On the 50th, to win the race and set the record, it can’t be any better,” he said.
Lofstrom was running in second place until taking over top spot as he re-entered Nanaimo harbour.
“We were pretty much the same difference the whole race, first, second, third, and I just got him at the last checkpoint,” Lofstrom said. “You’ve got to pin it to win it.”
Glenn said coming around the last corner, he saw the finish and started taking the wrong line in that direction before he spotted the big bathtub and the final buoys.
“And then he went off to the right and I’m thinking, oh no, I just lost the race…” said Glenn. “I wanted to break my old record. I said, if I’m going in it, I’m going to win and I want to break the record. I would have, too.”
Barlow said the seas were dead calm.
“It’s just a matter of holding it wide open and that’s about it. There wasn’t too much to challenge you today,” he said. “They had a bit more speed than I did and there was nothing you can do about it in calm weather.”
After the race, spectators were notified that the race results were being challenged.
Glenn, the previous record holder, lodged the challenge, suspicious of the speed of Lofstrom’s tub. Later, there was an update, advising that pending a motor inspection, Lofstrom is the champion.
“And that’s the way it’s going to stay,” he said.
Bill McGuire, commodore of the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, said there’s a process in place to check over the motor.
“It’s an internal thing, something we can’t do on the beach,” he said. “They’ll check that and then we’ll make an announcement if this has been upheld or not.”
There will be no controversy in the women’s division, as Katharine Lamoureux regained her title.
“There was a couple of rough patches, got some good air in there, had a couple sideways waves hit me, but the majority of it was pretty smooth,” she said.
She wished there had been more women racing this year, but was happy with her achievement.
“It’s just an amazing challenge and feeling just to even be able to do it,” she said.
David McHardie won the modified division in 1:22:53 and Jeff Saunders was first in the stock class in 1:30:14.
McGuire said the Nanaimo Marine Festival, all in all, was exceptional, adding that Friday’s concert was sold out and Saturday’s fireworks show was spectacular. He thanked sponsors, volunteers, and everyone who took part.
“We’d like to thank the Nanaimoites and visitors for coming and supporting it. It makes it all worthwhile,” he said.