Jaime Garcia of Nanaimo goes inside to round the corner on the first lap of the Super-Modified division race. Mark Brett/Western News

Jaime Garcia of Nanaimo goes inside to round the corner on the first lap of the Super-Modified division race. Mark Brett/Western News

Bathtubs race on Okanagan Lake

Fundraiser benefits Penticton Regional Hospital expansion project

Chris Glenn of Port Coquitlam gets some air at the start of the Super-Modified class race at the Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race off Powell Beach in Trout Creek Saturday. (Mark Brett/Western News)

It was a smoky Saturday as boaters raced bathtubs on Okanagan Lake during the third annual Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race in Summerland.

The race was a fundraiser for the Penticton Regional Hospital tower project. Proceeds from the event went to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

In the Class A event, Summerland Dental Centre won first place, with Mike Abougoush as the skipper.

Abougoush had participated last year, but his boat sank and he was unable to complete the race.

“It was just nice to finish the race,” he said. “I had a boat that worked this year.”

He noted that the lake was rough, adding to the challenge of the event.

Second place went to Great Estate Wines, with Jason Schafer as skipper, while Summerland Fire Department, with skipper Kevin Bond, was in third place.

Mike Stohler, a real estate agent with Remax Orchard Country in Summerland, participated this year, but did not win. In 2015 and 2016, he was the first-place finisher in his category.

While Stohler raced in the same bathtub boat as in the last two years, he did not use the same boat motor.

In 2015, before the inaugural race, Stohler and fellow real estate agent Patrick Murphy purchased a used boat from a Nanaimo competitor. While that boat brought them victories, they later discovered it had been modified and did not fit the stock category.

Penticton’s Dr. Lloyd Westby struggles to reach the bell at the finish line of the A division race. (Mark Brett/Western News)

As a result, Stohler relinquished his last two wins.

Stohler and Murphy discovered the modifications less than a week before the race and had to scramble to find a legal boat motor for Saturday’s race.

“Integrity is so important to us in our business,” Murphy said.

They were able to replace the motor, but the difference affected them on the water. “It feels a little slower and a little quieter,” Stohler said before the race on Saturday.

In the B category, the winner was Ken Hardardt of Naramata.

Hardardt had finished third in last year’s competition.

He said the slower finish last year was because he started the race 10 minutes late and missed the first marker that year.

“This year, I started on time,” he said.

Hardardt’s boat was sponsored by Summerland Waterfront Resort.

In second place was Barry Beecroft Fuels, with skipper Julian Giordano. Buy The Sea, with skipper Grayden Portman, finished in third place.

A third race, the Nanaimo Guest Race, was also held. Brian Stoochnow was the first-place winner in that event, followed by Trevor Short and Jamie Garcia.

The bathtub race is hosted by the Summerland Yacht Club.