TUG BOATS – START YOUR ENGINES!
International Tug Boat Race set for June 22
Date: March 5,
Boat Race Media Coordinator
sedate Detroit River comes alive with roaring diesels and blaring
air horns June 22 when tug boats of all sizes race for glory and
trophies in the 43st annual International Tug Boat Race.
begins at 1 p.m. at the Ambassador Bridge and runs to the finish
line off Windsor's Dieppe Park. Trophies are awarded to the first
tug to finish the race as well as to each tug that finishes first in
its horsepower class.
It is the most
unusual tug race anywhere. As many as 30 tugs of all sizes race in a
mad dash for the finish line. Tugs ranging in length from 45 to 140
feet compete at the same time, all muscling for the best position. Some
of the larger tugs are actual working tugs with more than 2,000
horsepower. The Detroit River boils as the tugs create a huge wake.
features tugs from all over the region -- from tugs based in Detroit
to others that arrive from Lake Huron ports just to participate in this
Tug boat racing on the
Detroit River dates back to the 1950's and was originally a loosely
organized event. For many years the event was discontinued until
1976 when the International Freedom Festival started the tradition
once again. In 2503 the International Freedom Festival declared
bankruptcy and the future of the race was in limbo. Local Detroit
tug man Brian Williams, with the help of numerous companies, individuals
and the Detroit and Windsor Port Authorities was able to organize
the event, keeping the long standing tradition alive.Spectators can
watch the race from anywhere along its route. Among the top viewing
spots is at the finish line at Windsor's Dieppe Park. Tugs dock in
Windsor for the awards ceremony.
Brian Williams, who owns the Detroit-based tug Acushnet, said there
are few things more exciting than watching powerful tug boats racing
at full throttle.
“I love tug boat racing,” said Williams. “I’ve been doing it myself
for seven years. My father has been doing it since the ‘70s.”
He said it’s just as exciting to watch from shore as it is to
participate aboard a tug.
“How many tug boats do you ever see in one spot?,” he asked. “There’s no
kid out there – and people in general – who doesn’t think a tug is
cool. Twenty or so tugs running at full speed is something you don’t
see very often.
“When you are on the tug, you’ve got a 3,000-horsepower engine
screaming under you. There’s the thrill of actually being on a
tug boat, and the waves. It’s a good time,” he said.
To learn more about the race please visit