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Tugboats Race Along Hudson River

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Tugboats raced along the Hudson River, showing off their sea legs in Manhattan Sunday for the 22nd annual Great North River Tugboat Race. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.

"And they're off and running!" a voice says over a megaphone.

With that, 18 tugboats went head to head, leaving the 79th Street Boat Basin, near Pier 1, bound for the finish line at pier 84.

Spectators waited to see who would be this year's Great North River Tugboat Race champion.

"The Robert E. McAllister" scored a big lead and sailed into first place. The massive tugboat is part of the McAllister Towing and Transportation company fleet.

For many fans, though, the winning tugboat isn't the only favorite.

"The 'Little Bronx'—which, I hope you got that on camera—is a tiny, tiny, tiny tugboat that always come in last," says Staten Island resident Gareth Tibbs.

Tibbs says he made the trip to Manhattan for the race, in order to cheer on the tugboats he sees around his home on Staten Island.

"There's all these tugboat launches around Staten Island. There's one right off the ferry which is the Miller's. They're here. The McAllisters are just around, opposite New Jersey. They're here," Tibbs says.

Tugboats also went nose to nose for a pushing contest.

Another part of this event is the line throw. Tugboats compete who can get their line around the bit faster.

There were a lot of misses—until there was a hit.

"I feel kind of nervous seeing which sailor has the best accuracy and which one can get it on to the pier line," says spectator Skye Roberts.

Aside from fun and games, many of the boats have a special history.

This is a water salute from the FDNY tugboat representing firefighters killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

There's also "The Pegasus" captained by Pamela Hepburn.

"She's one of the first women tugboat captains in New York harbor," says race judge Betsy Haggerty.

"The John J. Harvey" goes back to World War II.

"The Fireboat Harvey was here during the Normandy fire during World War II," says Jerry Roberts, founder of the race.

Looking forward, race organizers say they hope even more tugboats join the competition and the tradition for years to come.

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