It’s wet, wild and a little bit wacky and it’s been part of our identity for 51 years.
The Great International World Championship Bathtub Race will be held this Sunday (July 23), the culmination of the Nanaimo Marine Festival that has kept our harbour hopping all month long.
The first bathtub race was held in Canada’s centennial, so for the event to be continuing in the country’s sesquicentennial, it’s a fine time to hop in the ol’ bathtub time machine and consider what Nanaimo’s signature summer event has meant in our community over the years.
The first bathtub race was intended as a bit of a publicity stunt and it served that purpose, but has also grown to mean something more to people in Nanaimo. We’re a diverse collection of people, but it’s important to celebrate the things that bring us together and create community, and bathtub racing still manages to do that, 51 years later.
What we like about bathtub weekend is it isn’t just for tubbers. The racing side of the sport has gained some horsepower since those early years of racing, and not any sailor in the city has the wherewithal to build a super-modified tub and try to keep up with the speediest skippers. For spectators, it’s great fun to watch the ending, with the tubbers speeding into the harbour, splashing into the surf and trying to sprint for the finish-line bell. The spectacle reliably packs the park, and for good reason.
But Bathtub weekend fills a lot more of the Harbour City than 36 nautical miles in the Strait of Georgia. With activities, concerts, street fairs, a parade, fireworks and more, a lot of dedicated folks have given us a lot of good reasons to gather and celebrate in a way that’s uniquely Nanaimo. We hope everyone takes the opportunity to hop in and have some fun.
This Marine Festival weekend, in spirit, at least, we can all be sailors, mariners, pirates and bathtubbers.