Since 1967, inconspicuous bathtubs have been converted into seaworthy vessels ready to race in Nanaimo’s annual Great World Championship Bathtub Race.
To the left of the photo, you’ll see Mayor Frank Ney sharing a laugh with local Nanaimoites as he carefully inspects the seaworthiness of a race tub prior to the inaugural bathtub race in 1967. Mayor Ney was an ardent supporter of the Bathtub Race. It was common to see Mayor Ney cruising the streets of Nanaimo wearing his famous pirate outfit in promotion of the big race.
When the race first began in 1967, racers journeyed across the Georgia Strait from Nanaimo to Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. This race was not for the faint of heart. As years passed, the race route eventually changed. Now tubbers start and end in Departure Bay.
Over the years, the engineering quality of seafaring tubs has drastically improved. “Backyard specials” with makeshift plywood and meager engines are no more. Today’s vessels are made for speed, endurance, and aesthetic appeal.
Don’t forget to check out this year’s 51st Great World Championship Bathtub race on Sunday, July 23rd at 11am sharp. The 58-kilometer race will include over 100 tubbers on the water!
The best checkpoints to watch from are Gallows Point on Protection Island, Orlebar Point on Gabriola, Sebastian Beach in Lantzville, Neck Point Park in Nanaimo, and Pipers Lagoon Park in Nanaimo. (Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society)