For the this year’s great race winner, bathtub racing has been an obsession.
Not only did Brandon Skipper ring the bell in first place in the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race on Sunday, July 23, at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park, but the veteran tubber claimed a new record in a time of one hour, 43 seconds. The previous record was held by Justin Lofstrom who finished the race in 1:07:30 in 2016.
“I put a lot of time in this year, almost too much time … It became more of an obsession. Everything just kind of worked out in my favour today,” Skipper said. “We all joked about me breaking an hour because I knew I had the potential, the speed. But it was really just hard to pace myself out there.”
The champion added that not only did leading the pack prove difficult as he was used to setting himself to someone else’s pace, but the physical demands of being on the water started to take its toll.
“You just start letting off and letting off and you’re getting tired – vision starts to go a little weird,” he said. “I started breaking down just physically around Pipers Lagoon. I just went, ‘I’m so over this.’ The waves were going every which way and it was really glassy, so it was hard to see.”
Altogether, 36 tubbers competed in this year’s bathtub race, leaving Nanaimo Harbour at 11 a.m. and racing up to the Winchelsea Islands and back.
Trevor Short was the second competitor to ring the bell, coming in at 1:01:25 and keeping steady pace with the champion.
“[Short] started coming up beside me and started walking on me, and it was an instant second wind – ‘No, you’re not, bud!’ – And I just kept going…” Skipper said. “I put some distance between him and I … and then I was conservative coming in … At the end of the day, I’m happy.”
Cody Drzewiecki was third to ring the bell in 1:02:00, Curtis Skipper won the stock division in 1:21:26 and Tara McDonald was first woman to finish in 1:22:02.
Although the champion Brandon Skipper has competed in, or otherwise been a part of the bathtub race community, since 2003, this year marks his first win. His No. 555 super modified Harris Auto tub was built roughly 20 years ago, by himself and a friend, and he said he was fortunate enough to be asked to race it this year.
Although sore and a little beat up, the champion walked away from the race without any major injuries.
“I’m proud of everyone that pushed themselves. You know you get the rough years and then you get the years like this where it’s actually super physically demanding because you can hold it wide open but you’re just killing your body,” he said.