John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald

Changes planned for bathtub race

This year’s Ogopogo Bathtub race on Aug. 20 promises to be even more exciting than last year.

This year’s Ogopogo Bathtub race on Aug. 20 promises to be even more exciting than last year.

For the race’s second year, organizers have made some changes, both to the race and for those watching from shore, with a new location, a longer race course and more activities in the park.

But the race has also drawn some attention outside the valley. A group of experienced bathtub racers are coming up from Nanaimo to try their hand at racing their tubs on a lake instead of the ocean.

These racers are in a class by themselves, with faster bathtubs as well as experience driving them.

“It is the same type of boat, but they have engines that have been all tweaked up and will go twice as fast as these boats,” said Jim Cavin of the Summerland Yacht Club, which organizes the bathtub race. “They have to race in their own little group.”

Mirjana Komljenovic expects the the Nanaimo competitors in an exhibition race should be a lot of fun.

“They are professionals. We are very fortunate they would even consider coming up here to check it out,” said Komljenovic. “I don’t think they have ever raced on Okanagan Lake before.”

Komljenovic said they are already expecting a good turnout.

“My understanding is we have 15 entries so far, not including the Nanaimo boats. We have more entrants this year than we did last year at this time. That is a very good sign,” said Komljenovic.

Another change is moving the race location to Summerland’s Powell Beach. The larger beach access there, Komljenovic explained, will give them more room for activities for families: an Ogopogo sand sculpting contest, face painting, bouncy castles and more.

“We are going to have what we’re calling a putt-putt race, where the entry is not about coming in first, it is about costumes, sponsorship money, it is about spirit, all that sort of thing,” said Komljenovic.

The Putt-Putt or Paddle Fundrace lets everyone take part, she explained, even those without the ability to build a competitive bathtub racer. You don’t even need to have a motor on your boat for the one-mile course – those with motors go around the course twice. Your entry just needs to be able to float and move somehow.

“It is going to be just for fun, so families can race in that,” said Komljenovic.

Proceeds from the Putt-Putt and the bathtub race are earmarked for the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s drive to equip the new patient care tower under construction at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The winner of the Putt-Putt race might not be the fastest boat – the winner will be the one that collects the most points in three different areas: the race itself, the most inventive entry and the biggest fundraiser.

The main race this year will be longer, with three loops around a triangular course starting at Powell Beach, across to Naramata, then a long run north on Okanagan Lake before an even longer straightaway back to the start line.

“We’ve expanded the race. Last year, we learned that the race was over too quickly,” said Komljenovic, who added the competitors are looking forward to the longer course. “Racing is about challenges, it is okay for them to be challenged.”

For more information about the Ogopogo Bathtub Race, including boat specifications and registration, visit ogopogobathtubrace.com, or on Facebook at ogopogobathtubrace.