Veteran bathtub racer Marian Stewart zips around the Ucluelet Harbour on May 18. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Veteran bathtub racer Marian Stewart zips around the Ucluelet Harbour on May 18. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Vancouver Island bathtub racers launch West Coast Tub Society

“You can’t have fun in a tinny like you would in a tub”

There’s new bathtub racing club on the Vancouver Island, and it’s ‘Seriously dedicated to good times’.

Tubber Kurt Henderson was in Tofino and Ucluelet last week spreading the good word about the newly formed West Coast Tub Society (WCTS).

“You can’t have fun in a tinny like you would in a tub. The adrenaline rush is like racing motorcycles,” said Henderson, one of Nanaimo’s top bathtub racers.

Bathtub racer and tugboat captain Shane Reis placed 12th in Nanaimo’s 2019 World Championship Bathtub Race. He says he got into tub racing about three years ago because he loves boats and he loves being on the water.

Recently, Reis dropped $2,500 on bathtub racer 727, a red tub he says goes about 30-35m/h.

“It’s a fun boat, not the fastest,” he said after a fun session on the Ucluelet Harbour.


Tub racer Shane Reis catches some serious air from hitting the wake off a boat. (Nora O’Malley photo)

According to longtime bathtub racing enthusiast Ben Martin, most winning tubs all feature a similar hull design called the Bonnici.

“There was a guy that came out in the eighties from Australia, he came up and kicked our butts. We were running just regular flat hulls of plywood and this guy named Bonnici came up with this wicked hull design. He kicked our butt for a few years in a row until George Johnson stole the hull design and we started running Bonnici hulls,” said Martin.

Nanaimo has been the home of bathtub racing since the inaugural race in 1967, which is now known as the World Championship Bathtub Race and usually takes place in July. The course is 58-km long and over 100 bathtubs enter the contest.

“It’s total chaos at the beginning of the race. You see guys flip. It’s exciting,” said Henderson, adding that the threshold to cancel a race is if conditions hit 30-knot winds.

WCTS is eyeing Ucluelet as a future site for drag racing or skills contest. There is also a new category called ‘Outlaw Class’ for veteran racers that want to go faster.

Henderson encouraged West Coasters to reach out if they want to get involved. He says tub racing is all about team fun with each event involving a pit crew, safety boat, and racer.

“We’ll help you build a boat and if you want to be competitor, we’ll help. Whatever you want,” said Henderson.

Anyone interested in learning more about tubbing is encouraged to visit westcoasttubssociety.ca.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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