Famous British writer C.S. Lewis once observed that it was impossible to get a teacup large enough to suit him.
If he had lived in the region during the Oak Bay Tea Party, he would have likely found a solution to that problem.
“We have these huge six-foot-wide fibreglass teacups, and every year the mayor of Oak Bay will go up against challengers to manoeuvre their cup around a course using these mismatched oars. The cups have no keel and, frequently, participants will find themselves in the water as their cups tip over. But it’s all in good fun,” said Sandy Germain, chair of the Oak Bay Tea Party Society.
And tipping over isn’t the only problem.
“I was competing one year, and I guess the current caught me. It felt like I was halfway to Vancouver when the RCMP boat came and towed me in. It was embarrassing, but all in good fun.”
In fairness, Germain said she’s not the only past participant who found themselves floating off in the current.
“It happens occasionally, but we have the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society rescue boat standing by, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
The challenge has seen a host of luminaries participate in years past, including a series of mayors, former MLA Ida Chong, NHL star Geoff Courtnall, author and actor Meg Tilly, and even Olympic medalist Silken Laumann.
“It didn’t take her long to figure it out. Two test strokes, and she was gone,” Germain said.
This year, Oak Bay’s Mayor Kevin Murdoch will be facing off against Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock.
“We have a friendly wager to raise money for setting up a clinic for prosthetics in Ukraine,” Murdoch said. “It’s all for fun, of course, but we’re still hoping to raise a lot of money for this very worthwhile cause.”
The money pledged for the two mayors’ efforts will go to the Victoria Hand Project as part of their efforts to raise $200,000 for the Ukrainian clinic.
“What’s interesting is that the organization is located right on the border between Oak Bay and Saanich so we can both claim them as our own,” Murdock said.
“As an added incentive, the mayor who gets the lesser amount pledged must do his rowing while gripping the oar with a special prosthetic hand. It’s very neat but isn’t going to make it easy.”
Neither mayor, it seemed, is concerned about tipping their teacup.
“I’m not worried,” said Murdock. “Anyway, I’m a pretty good swimmer.”
“He’ll have to be,” added Oak Bay’s Murdoch.
The floating tea cup challenge takes place at Willows Bach on Sunday, June 4 at 3 p.m.
To learn more, or to donate to the prosthetic clinic, go to victoriahandproject.com/ukraine.
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