You never know what can come out of a coffee break. Twenty-nine years ago D'Arcy Rinald, June Ravnborg and May Moffat who worked at CHUB Radio at the time, were have their morning coffee break. The topic that morning was what else would be a fun event to do in the summer, sort of along the lines of the bathtub race.
The tub races had been going strong since 1967 and the radio station played a very important role in the races, but over the
years it had become quite competitive and expensive for some to run.
It was D'Arcy who, when reading one of his many boating magazines, came across an article about a town in the States that had held a race with "boats" that you built yourself, with any material that would keep you afloat. The lightbulb went on. Again during their coffee break, D'Arcy mentioned the article and everyone thought that it was a great idea. It sounded fun... it sounded silly...it sounded like alot of work, so where do we go from here. It was decided that it would be a fun way for businesses to promote themselves, some friendly competition and with the ocean right at our doorstep, what could be more perfect? On a
shoestring budget but with great salesmanship, the newly formed committee managed to convince seven teams into taking part in the race.
I do believe the Daily Free Press (as this paper was called back then) was one of those teams. The broadcast remotes were set up, D'Arcy made up the rules and June and May manned the registration table.
As teams came up to the table, they asked how much does it cost to register. Hmmm, never thought about that part, but June being quick to think on her feet, just accepted the money and knew that on Monday's coffee break they would have to decide what to do with the funds. The Silly Boat Races were a great sucess!
At the time there was a "Show You Care Society" that gave financial assistance to families who had children who needed to travel to the States to receive their organ transplant operations. It was they who received the registration money. Because the first Silly Boats were such fun and greeted with enthusiasm, it became an annual event. Then, as transplant operations started being done at Children's Hospital in Vancouver, the "Show you Care Society" ceased to exist.
But the committee still wanted the moneies raised to be all about the kids, and what a better place for that than the Child Development Centre.
Back then the event was called The Silly Boat Races. Now it is
called The Silly Boat Regatta. And what a Regatta it is! Lots has happened over the last 29 years.
A lot of hard work, organization and imagination goes into making this event happen. It has now become a major summer event and the largest fundraiser of the year for the Child Development Centre.
D'Arcy Rinald wanted something silly, wacky and fun and 29 years later that's exactly what it happening. On a side note, D'Arcy Rinald lovingly calls me by the moniker of "Crash"... long story. And as for June Ravnborg, well ... she is my mom.
Kim Bayliss is a longtime Nanaimo resident
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