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Louisville, Cincinnati Boats Face Off In 51st Great Steam Boat Race

This year's 51st annual Great Steamboat Race--part of the Kentucky Derby Festival--will continue using a points system developed in previous years to determine the winner. 

Last year, three boats raced, but Derby Festival president Mike Berry says that’s only happened a few times in the race’s history.This year only the Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati will compete. Berry says crews of the vessels will run around competing in ten different tasks like jousting, a music competition and—of course—boating around nearly 6 miles of Ohio River.“The whole idea was to get all of the crew involved. So whether you’re the captain of the vessel or whether you popped the popcorn out of the concession stand, you’re going to participate in this event," he says.Berry says the winner isn’t always the first boat to cross the Clark Memorial Bridge. Instead the winner will be determined by the number of points they receive for the tasks they complete.“If you look at the finish line, whether it’s two or three [boats], it seems that they all start to get there the same time and so we’ve got the scientist that have tried to determine how to handicap steamboats," Berry says.The race is Wednesday, May 1.