EDITORIAL: Bathtub race needs to evolve

Bathtubbing could provide no end to fodder for spectators and television’s highlight reel.

Every year, in cities all over the world, hundreds of people rocket down an icy course wearing not much more than hockey skates.

At other events, people pilot tiny planes through an obstacle course over harbours, or cliff jump from enormous heights to the delight of thousands of spectators below.

Sound crazy?

It shouldn’t – none of these events is any more outrageous than Nanaimo’s beloved bathtub races.

The difference is these other quasi-sports attract worldwide attention from fans and participants, flooding host cities with millions in tourist dollars, not to mention the fun and frivolity associated with an international event.

Attendance and participation to Nanaimo’s ‘great race’ is steady, but it’s time to think outside the bathtub and reinvigorate the 45-year-old event.

The younger generation of tubbers – the same kids who grew up watching X-Games and Jackass on television – has lots of ideas to attract new blood, starting with prize money.

A new route around Nanaimo Harbour that’s more spectator-friendly, while providing less-risk for first-time tubbers, would make the race itself – the cornerstone of the entire Marine Festival – more attractive to watch.

Or things could get really crazy with the addition of obstacles, jumps, stunts or other wild innovations.

Members of the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society worked tirelessly to produce the festival every year, building it into the city’s signature summer festival.

To stay relevant today, however, the event must evolve.

Other sports have – ski cross is now an Olympic event.

Bathtubbing won’t likely get that far – it’s hardly a yacht race – but it could provide no end to fodder for spectators and television’s highlight reel.

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