Belle of Louisville wins Great Steamboat Race - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Belle of Louisville wins Great Steamboat Race

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (WDRB) -- Chalk up another victory for the Belle of Louisville in the Great Steamboat Race.

The Belle crew scored more points in the traditional Ohio River race and from several "maritime" skill tests to defeat the Belle of Cincinnati and the American Queen on Wednesday.

Passengers on the boat and spectators on the Louisville wharf heard the celebratory steamwhistle as the Belle of Louisville passed under the finish line of the Second Street bridge.

On board you could find a capacity crowd that included Miss America and Ginnifer Goodwin and New Albany's Josh Dallas from "Once Upon a Time" and more than a few happy locals.

Mike Ellis of Jeffersonville enjoyed his third Belle race cruise, dressed in a seersucker suit jacket adorned with steamboat pins.  He carried a lucky rabbit's foot in his pocket.

"I'm dressed for success," Ellis joked. 

Balmy, 87 degree weather at the start of the race encouraged more folks to take part on the boats and watch from the shore.

High water postponed last year's race for more than a month -- and brought lesser interest and revenue for sponsors.

A chilly Thunder day brought smaller crowds this year -- and the winds canceled some of the balloon activities.

But fine weather and some changes to some Derby Festival events this week should more than make up for the doldrums of last year.

The Derby Festival chairperson points to a full Belle and higher attendance at the bed races -- now relocated to the downtown arena -- as two examples.

"Really really nice. It was an outstanding crowd, outstanding participation. I'm sure it's going to stay at that site," Wendy Jacob said.

Jacob also notes bigger crowds for the Chow Wagon and Waterfront Park concerts this year and a big response to a first-time gospel choir fest.

Here's how the Derby Festival explained the various tasks and scoring scenario for the race:

With a total of 134 points accumulated from a series of nine tasks during the day, the hometown Belle of Louisville was declared the winner of the 50th anniversary Kentucky Derby Festival Great Steamboat Race, beating the Belle of Cincinnati and the American Queen.

Utilizing a task and point system format for determining the winner, the Belle of Louisville scored 29 points by crossing under the Clark Memorial Bridge first to win the final task in the scoring system and secure the victory in the event. The Belle of Cincinnati finished second with 105 points and the American Queen was third with 90 points. 

  • Task No. 1: Jousting inflatable – All three vessel were awarded five points
  • Task No. 2: Obstacle inflatable course – Belle of Cincinnati 10 points, Belle of Louisville 5 points
  • Task No. 3: Handy line toss – American Queen 10 points, Belle of Louisville 5 points
  • Task No. 4: Monkey fist toss – Belle of Cincinnati 10 points, Belle of Louisville 5 points
  • Task No. 5: Calliope contest – Belle of Louisville 10 points, Belle of Cincinnati 5 points
  • Task No. 6: Buoy flag retrieval – All three vessels were awarded 25 points
  • Task No. 7: VIP retrieval – All three vessels were awarded 25 points
  • Task No. 8: Bourbon barrel retrieval – All three vessels were awarded 25 points
  • Task No. 9: Boat race finish – Belle of Louisville was awarded 29 points

The Belle of Louisville was awarded a set of silver-plated antlers that is traditionally given to the winning vessel. The Awards Ceremony took place immediately following the race at the Chow Wagon.

 

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