Sailing is a gentlemen’s sport, and rowing attracts world-class athletes, but a waterborne race where one can do whatever they want? That’s where the real challenge lies. At least that’s the mentality behind Belgium’s International Regatta of Bathtubs – a refreshing mix of sun, surf and beer in the tiny town of Dinant.
Held each year along the Meuse River, La Regate des Baignoires, as it’s known in its native tongue, is exactly what it sounds like. An event where creativity counts, all the entrants must do is launch a seaworthy (or riverworthy, as it were) craft that consists of at least one bathtub. A purist might complain that the event can hardly be called a “bathtub regatta” since the tub is often hidden or dressed up by more elaborate fixtures used for floatation - and decoration - but most spectators prefer the current mix of animal-shaped, house-inspired and landfill–claimed crafts that participate.
Still going strong after more than 20 years, sportsmanship is not lost in this unwieldy competition. Rules exist outlawing motors, crafts lacking a bathtub and attempts by contestants to sink other vessels. One battle they do gladly engage in, however, is the spirited launching of buckets of water at one another as they float slowly up the river in the hot sun. Perennially growing crowds gather from miles around each year to sit along the riverbank and enjoy fine Belgian beers, laughing at the outrageous boats and relaxing in the sun.