As the City of Nanaimo's "Centennial Event" more than 200 tubbers in every type of watercraft imaginable entered the fun competition and amazingly, 47 completed the 36 mile course to Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove across the Strait of Georgia.
The race continued crossing the Strait of Georgia (finishing at Kitsilano Beach) until 1996. In 1997 the finish line was changed to Departure Bay in Nanaimo covering a very grueling course that starts in Nanaimo Harbor, goes around Entrance Island, northwest to Winchelsea Islands, around a naval ship, past Schooner Cove and then back to Departure Bay beach.
In the early days it was indeed a challenge to just get past the starting line in the choppy confusion caused by an extra 785 small and large observation and escort boats in Nanaimo harbour.
From the confusion of the first race in 1967, the "Great" International World Championship Bathtub Race & 4 day Marine Festival has evolved. Where once a select band of tubbers were the highlight they now share the spotlight with many other land and water events which are interesting and often spectacular to watch.
This year, for the first time, the course will be altered slightly so that all bathtubs end up in Downtown Nanaimo, at the base of the Frank Ney statue in Maffeo Sutton Park. The length of the course remains unchanged, the route itself is just modified slightly. This historic change makes sense for many reasons and will help ensure the sustainability of this wacky sport and the Marine Festival that has grown around it.