Bathtub racer perseveres on rough water for more than 5 hours

By Spencer Sterritt
July 25, 2017 - 1:09pm Updated: July 26, 2017 - 2:21pm

Bathtub racer Kyle Boyd on his way out of the Nanaimo harbour. It would be more than five hours until he returned.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — If you were in a bathtub boat, riding some of the roughest waves in race history, getting bruised and battered around, for more than five hours, would you quit?

Kyle Boyd, a relative newcomer to the annual bathtub race, told NanaimoNewsNOW he constantly questioned why he bothered taking on the massive swells as he raced for five hours and seven minutes.

“I said 'I'm doing it until I flip.' And I made it.”

Boyd said it was a wild trip to see other boats getting picked off by the waves, all while charting his own difficult course.

“You'd disappear in the bottom of a swell and you're trying to find your (escort) boat and then you come flying over the wave. It was wild, man. Thank God I had a helmet on because I would have lost all my teeth from the bar, from smashing on it. It was crazy.”

He was one of only five finishers and barely made it to the finish line since he nearly sank.

“I had to climb right out of the tub, jump on the front of my boat and hug the tip because I was going right over. I just barely pulled it off, the motor was under the water and I finally got it back. That was the scariest part, I thought I was going to have all the boat right on top of me.”

Though he was on the water for more than five hours, Boyd said he had no sense of time and didn't realize how long he'd taken.

“I thought I was doing pretty good for time and then getting told (my time) was like 'woah, five hours?'”

By the time he made it to the finish line, everyone had nearly packed up and gone home.

Event co-organizer Greg Peacock said they were ready to call it a day when they heard the last boat coming along the water. The bell, which racers ring once they make it to shore, had already been packed up and someone had to hold it up for Boyd to ring.

Peacock said it was “without question, one of the roughest any of these tubbers have ever participated in.”

Escort boats also fared poorly against the choppy waters, with one sinking and another losing its motor.

“When the Port Authority boat came around Entrance Island, they said it looked like a bathtub cemetery,” with the pointy bow of the boats sticking up out of the water “like tombstones.”

It's an epic battle against the water for very little reward, Peacock said.

“This is a hobby. There's no cash prize, no anything. You get a trophy and a golden plug and if you're lucky you get a t-shirt that's not all stained and ripped up by the time it's over,” he said.

Despite having bruises all down his legs and not being able to walk well, Boyd said he'll definitely try again next year and hoped for a better time.

— with files from Dom Abassi


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

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