Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Belle-Belle river duel


BB boat to take Delta Queen's place

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Alan Bernstein can already picture the Golden Antlers residing on the top deck of the Belle of Cincinnati.

[photo] Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats, stands next to the Belle of Cincinnati as it sits docked in Covington.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        That's after the local riverboat defeats the Belle of Louisville in the annual Kentucky Derby race in Louisville in May. The Belle of Cincinnati replaces the dry-docked Delta Queen, which recently dropped out of the race between two cities that is a highlight of the Kentucky Derby Festival celebration.

        “It's a bittersweet experience,” Mr. Bernstein said of his boat racing in place of the Delta Queen. “Everyone loves the Queen. But we'll be representing Cincinnati, and that's a real honor.”

        The Delta Queen's owners, American Classic Voyages, filed recently for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and have said the boat will be in dry dock all summer for repairs.

        The Belle of Cincinnati, owned and operated by Mr. Bernstein's BB Riverboats, was invited to replace the Delta Queen in next year's Great Steamboat Race on May 1. The prize is possession of a set of golden antlers for one year.

        The Belle of Louisville, formerly the Avalon when it berthed in Cincinnati, holds an 18-17 edge over the Delta Queen in Derby weekend races.

        “The two boats are very close in size, about 225 feet long,” Mr. Bernstein said. “The big difference is the Belle of Louisville is steam horsepower and we have diesel engine power. It's hard to tell which is more powerful. I don't know exactly what the Belle of Louisville's horsepower is, but I know she can move.”

        The Belle of Louisville draws about two feet less water than the Belle of Cincinnati, making it a bit easier to maneuver and turn. And then there's experience.

        “They have a lot more experience racing on that (14-mile) course and making the turn,” Mr. Bernstein said.

        This is only the third time in 40 years that the Delta Queen will not compete in the annual riverboat race.
       
       
       

       



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