The Great North River Tug Boat Race and Competition

Did you know that there’s a popular spinach eating contest in honor of Popeye, the legendary cartoon character and his trusty tug boat called the Spinacher? Well, if you want to find out, then head on to the Hudson river this fall.

The Great North River Tug Boat Race and Competition is held every Labor Sunday on the Hudson River. Other than the above mentioned spinach contest, it holds a tugboat race and many other events. This popular harbor tradition is a great opportunity for local captains to celebrate their boats, their river and the tug boat industry, says Premier Ship Models, a company that makes some of the best RC model tug boats, barges and trawlers.

About the Event

The Great North River Tug Boat Race and Competition, or as it is called these days The New York Tug Boat Race takes place every fall on the Sunday preceding Labor Day. The one mile race competed on the Hudson River begins at 79th Street in Manhattan at ends at the 44th Street.

A dockside festival is also celebrated on this day. It has many other events for the captain and crew of the boats, such as nose-to-nose pushing contest, best mascot/costume, line toss competition etc.


The first ever Great North River Tug Boat Race was held by the Intrepid Museum under the leadership of Captain Jerry Roberts in 1991. The boats raced from 79th Street Boat Basin to Pier 86. The Museum produced the event for 13 more years until Captain Jerry left its staff in 2004.

In 2005, Captain Jerry himself held the event and it shifted to Staten Island. A barge was arranged for the awards ceremony and the line tossing competition. However, due to lack of a decent spot for the spectators, the event wasn’t held at this venue the next year.

The 2006 New York Tugboat Race was held at pier 63 Maritime which offered a better view to the spectators. John Krevey, the pier’s owner provided the crew of the boats with free food and drinks. However, the wake resulting from the race caused problems for the neighboring piers. This along with the fact that there was insufficient space to tie up the boats meant that the venue had to be changed again.

The 2007 race followed a course similar to the original, beginning at the 79th Street Boat Basin and ending at Pier 84. This pier would become the event’s permanent location. It now serves as a park where the spectators gather to watch the race. The event’s popularity resulted in similar races being held on the St. Mary’s River and the Detroit River.

Competitions for the Spectators

From 2008 onwards, the event started to include friendly competitions for the spectators. These competitions include line tossing on the pier, knot tying and spinach eating. The spectators are also allowed to buy a seat on a tug boat.

Tug boats and other small vessels like barges and trawlers are vital components of maritime transport that keep chugging along, rain or shine. If you wish to a build scale models of these watercraft, then it’s best to hire a professional model tug manufacturer.

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