Saanich police chief readies for Teacup Race

Officers from Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay to race Oak Bay mayor in annual Tea Cup Race

Saanich police Chief Bob Downie hopes to channel his inner child when he takes to the waters of Willows Beach in this weekend’s annual Oak Bay Mayor’s Floating Teacup Challenge Race.

As a 14-year-old, Downie and a group of fellow Venture Scouts canoed across Nova Scotia though the Shubenacadie Canal system. That was the last time he did any real sort of paddling – and it wasn’t in a giant teacup.

“It was a great trip. But it’s been a long time,” said Downie, who took the top spot at the Saanich Police Department on Feb. 1.

The new chief will not just face off against Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, but also Victoria’s new top cop, Frank Elsner, and Oak Bay deputy chief Kent Thom. (Oak Bay’s new police chief, Andy Brinton, was supposed to participate, but recently injured himself in a bike accident.)

“It’s good to have officials out in the community like this, getting to know people. It should be a bit of fun, and it’s something I’ve never done before – those are really appealing to me,” Downie said.

So the tradition of a two-teacup race, doubles to four this year.

“I’ll be up against some heavy competition,” Jensen said. “I have been going to the gym nearly every day for the last couple weeks pumping iron and practising treading water.”

Downie hopes he won’t have to experience the treading water part of the race.

“Nils has some experience, but Frank, (Kent) and I will be the dark horses,” he said.

The teacup race takes place at Willows Beach following the air show on Sunday, June 8 at 3 p.m.

– with files from Christine van Reeuwyk

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