In years past, one of the most popular attractions of Mariners’ Day was the pillow fight on the plank, in which men would duel, with pillows, on a plank mounted from a pier over the waters of the Reykjavík harbour.
Despite the obvious appeal—two men enter, one man leaves, the other splashing in the water like the humiliated child he is—the tradition slowly lost traction, and hasn’t been on the schedule of the holiday festivities in Reykjavík for almost two decades, although they’ve maintained the tradition in Grindavík.
B.a.h.n.s., or “Bið að heilsa niðrí slipp” (loosely translated “Send My Regards to the Dockyard”), is a fashion label started by Helga Lilja, also known as Helicopter and her fiancé Stephan Stephensen, known to most as the former co-leader of Icelandic techno-pop band GusGus. The couple behind this maritime-themed clothing outfit (or outfits-outfit if you want to get all punny) have long been fascinated with this decades-old tradition, and this year they have decided to bring it back.
For the first iteration of the rebooted contest, taking place by Vesturbugt at 15:00 on the June 11, six contestants have been chosen for their strength, beauty and relative celebrity status. The contestants chosen are all notable. Legendary Icelandic film and theatee actor Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, known for his role in ‘Everest’ and every other Icelandic movie of the last twenty years, will step onto the plank to face Stephan Stephensen, Iceland’s answer to the techno Viking, and current Gluteus Maximus frontman.
Actor and professor Stefán Jónsson, father to 101 boy Joey Christ and Retro Stefson percussionist and actor Haraldur Ari, will duel Böðvar Guðjónsson, Kex hostel impresario and man about town.
Finally, travel mogul Jóhann Pétur Guðjónsson will fight to the death (or at least serious wetness) with mountain guide and photographer Gabríel Patay.
While this year’s contest is closed to entry, signups will open for next year’s contest directly after the “masculine” awards ceremony (whatever that means), which will take place in newly reopened local fashion store Kíosk at 18:00 on the day of the contest. Also on offer will be free booze and discounts on the nice B.a.h.n.s. sweaters.
The contest announcer is controversial Reykjavík stand-up comedienne Saga Garðarsdóttir. The organizers promise the event will herald the end of the era of lethargic good-for-nothings and apathetic schlemiels.
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