The tubs got tossed around this year, but tubbers showed toughness and finished the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race.
Nanaimo’s Brandon Leigh won this year’s event, as he and his super-modified tub made it to Departure Bay beach in one hour, 30 minutes, 42 seconds. Leigh is a second-generation tubber and first-time champion.
“I rode the waves, I was on top of them, I wasn’t slugging it out like everybody else, and it really worked to my advantage,” said Leigh.
He had a huge lead for the second half of the race and he knew it, so he just needed to maintain focus. He ended up finishing more than 15 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
“It’s more of an endurance race than a speed race,” Leigh said. “So you’ve got to keep your wits about you the whole time because you can catch an edge and you can submarine and it’s all over in seconds.”
Runner-up this year was Shawn Lamoureux. The former champ said conditions were rough this year, with four- and five-foot waves heading toward the Winchelsea Islands.
“I try not to hit the big waves head on, but sometimes when you launch over 400-500 of them, you’re going to hit a couple of them head on,” he said. “I definitely got my bell rung a couple times.”
The defending champ, Clint Heine, was side by side with Leigh at around Neck Point, but took a spill there.
“My hand came off on a wave and [the tub] got too high in the front, came down and got water in the back and got sloshed by another wave and it killed the motor,” Heine said.
He was dumped into the drink, and needed his escort boat to help him get his tub back afloat.
He said the seas were rough for the duration of the race.
“It seemed to never let up anywhere, even coming in here [to Departure Bay],” he said.
The tubbers had been advised of the forecast in their morning meeting, said Katharine Lamoureux, first lady to finish the race.
“They told us to expect some serious wind and waves,” she said. “I was prepared for it but it was still intense no matter how much you know what it’s going to be like out there.”
There were some close calls, said the three-time finisher and first-time winner.
“I think my escort boat thought I was going down at least 10 times,” Katharine Lamoureux said. “I wasn’t so sure a few times, too.”
Brad Davis won the stock class and was third overall and Kevin Saunders won the modified division. Darren Logan won Oldest Tubber to Finish and also the Last Place Survivor award. Mike McKillican won the Silver Plunger Award as first tubber to sink. Madison Crawford won for Best Sportsmanship. Jaime Garcia won Heaviest Tubber to Finish and Trevor Short was Youngest Tubber to Finish.