Individual bragging rights aside, the big winner in the first annual Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race was Penticton Regional Hospital.
According to event organizer Jim Cavin of the Summerland Yacht Club, final tabulations are still being done, but it’s expected the Aug. 22 event will achieve it’s $15,000 fundraising goal.
The money will be donated to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation to help pay for equipment for the new hospital tower when it is completed.
“Everybody that went there that I talked to said, wow this is cool, and for the most part everybody was happy with how they made out. Whether they won or lost it’s all for a great cause,” said Cavin, who has worked on the project with other yacht club members since last fall. “It went really well, and I was thinking throughout the day we had about 400 or 500 people or so (at Peach Orchard Park). I think a lot of people who were in the race were quite excited about it both before and after.”
One of those excited competitors was Mike Stohler of Summerland Re/Max Orchard Country Realty who piloted his streamlined watercraft to first place in the A division race to Penticton and back.
“As soon as we found out about this event supporting the Penticton Hospital foundation we said this is a great thing and so we were all over it and we decided to enter the boat and here we are,” he said after the race as the feeling in his knees and fingers began to return. “It was just a wonderful day, the lake was just a bit choppy and we had a real tight knit group out there and everybody made it back happy and safe and that’s important.”
Stohler added unlike one of the team’s earlier practice runs, he made it back with both Go Pro cameras still on board.
“There is one Go Pro still out there on the bottom of Okanagan Lake,” he said. “This was really a great community event and I’m hoping that’s what going to happen here in Summerland and Penticton that we’re going to continue to grow this event into the calibre of what they’ve done in Nanaimo.”
That Vancouver Island city each year hosts the International World Championship Bathtub Race each year bringing in a large contingent of competitors.
Second in the A class was Bruce Varchol in the Great Estates entry and Ian Kavanaugh, piloting the Signature Pools/Cecile Guibault Horizon Realty tub, was third.
Over on the B side, Earl Lawrence was the winner in the Johnston Meier tub, runner up was Lyle Thiede in the Huber-Bannister entry and Josh Thornton at the helm of the Pat Wand/ABK Restoration vessel was third.
According to Cavin, he and other committee members are hoping to sit down this week to go over details of this year’s race to make things even better for 2016.
That includes adding new events and possible course changes.
“We’ll take a look after all of these things but overall things went really well and we’re looking forward to next year,” he said.
The club has made a five-year commitment to donate money from the event each summer to the medical foundation.