Nanaimo harbour was the scene of a bathtub race extravaganza at the first race in 1967, which was Canada’s 100th Birthday. 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 Straits of Georgia. Now the "Great RACE" finishes at Departure Bay beach in Nanaimo covering a very gruelling course that starts in Nanaimo Harbor, goes around Entrance Island, north west to Winchelsea Islands, around a naval ship, past Schooner Cove and then back to Departure Bay beach in Nanaimo.
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 harbor. From the confusion of a first time bathtub race in 1967, the Nanaimo to Nanaimo "Great" INTERNATIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BATHTUB RACE & 3 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.