On Monday, anyone passing through Dinant would have been surprised by a unique sight. Dozens of bathtubs were floating along the Meuse, cheered by tens of thousands of visitors from around the world.
The Dinant International Bathtub Regatta takes place on 15 August every year (excluding exception due to the pandemic) in the city in the province of Namur. This year, the 40th edition of the folkloric-sportive event was celebrated.
People gather alongside both sides of the river and near the Charles de Gaulle bridge. to view the nautical race, which is one kilometre long. This year, it attracted around 15,000 spectators, according to one of the organisers, Jean-Olivier Meyfroidt.
Dozens of self-proclaimed captains led their bathtub creations along the river. This year, unlike last year when one tub sank, there were no incidents.
The rules are simple: the craft must consist of at least one bathtub and no motor, meaning it must be driven by humans. Aside from that, captains are given carte blanche regarding the decoration of the crafts and how to enhance floating abilities. There are no rules on the size of a team.
The organisers were hoping for 40 bathtubs, including kits — provided on the day itself with rafters and cans allowing people to build them on the spot as quickly as possible — and personal constructions that were created from scratch, combined.
“There have been a host of requests for bath kits,” said Meyfroidt. A total of 22 bathtubs built from kits took part in the regatta, while 182 sailors took part.
"Some did a good job. But we can also understand that today, the materials are extremely expensive," Meyfroidt said. This year, the sailors had the possibility of parading on the Croisette de Dinant to return to the starting point.
Participants are rewarded for their boat's beauty, originality, how it represents the Walloon city, and whether it is a nod to a current event. This year's theme was “the great carnival of Dinant," which was clearly represented in some of the boats' designs.
The regatta was first organised in 1982 and it has since grown from a local event to an international gathering. It is completely free of charge, both for spectators and participants.