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Bathtub races to return to Vancouver waters in 2018

Picture of a bathtub race fundraiser for Penticton Regional Hospital.
Picture of a bathtub race fundraiser for Penticton Regional Hospital. Submitted

For almost 30 years, a heart-pumping series of bathtub races took competitors from Nanaimo all the way to Vancouver.

Races like those will once again take place in the waters off Vancouver next year — though they won’t quite traverse the same distance as those events.

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On Monday night, the Vancouver Park Board approved a special event permit that would allow a bathrub race to happen in English Bay as part of KitsFest on Aug. 11, 2018.

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The race is planned for the north end of Kitsilano Beach, and is expected to feature 10 to 20 boats racing each other in various heats and category finals from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

To make the race happen, organizers are going to have an area set aside on Kits Beach that can accommodate 1,200 people.

The park board will also allow them to serve alcohol on the site.

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The bathtub race is being put together by the Canada One Foundation, the organizer of KitsFest, alongside the Pitblado Group and the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society.

The latter group is behind the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race.

From 1967 to 1996, the race saw people affix motors to bathtubs and race each from Nanaimo’s harbour across the Strait of Georgia to Fisherman’s Cove in Vancouver.

The race’s finish line was reduced to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay in 1997.

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Bathtub races were championed early on by former Nanaimo Mayor Frank Ney, a colourful personality who was known for attending many public events, and for dressing up as a pirate.

A statue of Ney dressed as a pirate stands today in Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park.

The 2017 race course was altered to end right at the base of the statue.