The founder of the race, Alberto Serpagli, was inspired by a story about a Frenchman sailing down the river in tub. As part of his grand idea he acquired a batch of abandoned bathtubs and put them on sale. The first Régate de Baignoires was born on 15 August 1982 and has continued every year on the same day.
The regatta, held on the same day every year, has only grown since, as participants vie to create the most impressive bathtub-based craft to compete in the 1km race down Meuse.
This year, some 50 makeshift-boats will be celebrating “Films, past and present”. All crafts must be self-propelled (no motors allowed) to qualify for the event.
While a traditional bathtub must be incorporated somewhere in the flotation part of the craft, racers are at liberty to accessorise in creative ways around each year’s theme.
In honour of this year’s 30th anniversary, all bathtub boats will parade through the streets before they hit the water. During the parade, each creation will be judged on creativity, originality, relation to the year’s theme and relation to the city of Dinant, known for its still-standing Medieval architecture and being home to the inventor of the saxophone. Those results, in combination with the results of the race itself, will be used to award the prize to the winning team: a new car.
Participation and attendance for the event is free, and is expected to draw more than 25,000 visitors, with an antique car show, an arts and crafts fair and flamiche tasting, the local take on quiche, to round out the weekend’s celebrations.