Could this be the mayor’s final race?

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton paddles off Willows Beach during the Mayor’s Challenge Floating Teacup Race.

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton paddles off Willows Beach during the Mayor’s Challenge Floating Teacup Race.

Christopher Causton faces Oak Bay resident Meg Tilly in teacup challenge

Thinking back on Mayor’s Challenge Floating Teacup races gone by, Christopher Causton’s favourite memories involve sinkings.

There was the time former Esquimalt mayor Darwin Robinson – a former navy man – went overboard, then brought Causton down too, as he tried to board his host’s vessel.

Or when Victoria’s ex-mayor Alan Lowe sat stiff as a board while his tea cup filled with water. Or watching Oak Bay Sea Rescue volunteers haul water-logged, wetsuit-wearing pub owner Matt McNeil from the waves after he sunk.

“Every year has been special,” said Causton.

Having decided not to run in the next municipal election, this will be his last teacup race – unless, of course, he’s invited back next year to challenge whomever becomes mayor this fall.

Despite about two decades of experience rowing in the annual Oak Bay Tea Party finale event, Causton said the only technique he’s learned involves shoes.

“I always wear shoes with holes so they don’t get water-logged,” he said. Causton will also wear his annual staple: a Guinness hat decorated with red, white and blue to honour both Ireland and Britain.

This year, he will face off against actress and part-time Oak Bay resident Meg Tilly on day two of the Tea Party at 4 p.m. this Sunday (June 5). He fears she might be a tough opponent on the water.

“I would imagine that as an actress, she can sit incredibly still in a tea cup and have very good posture. But I don’t know if she can swim or not.”

Swimming abilities are an asset, considering the number of those who have gone overboard in races past. McNeil, owner of the Penny Farthing Pub, said his race against Causton six years ago was so memorable, he installed a permanent ode to the tea cup race in the Penny.

“I have a sneaking suspicion I was sabotaged,” he added, recalling his “uneven” oars.

After the race, which left McNeil soaked, the pub owner glued a tea cup upside-down to a plaque, and mounted it to a beam in the Penny, directly above where Causton stands for his half-glass of beer every Friday evening.

“The tea cup will never come down,” McNeil said.

ecardone@vicnews.com