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After 13-Year Absence, Riverboats Race Again On Ohio River

American Queen Steamboat Company
The American Queen docked at Cincinnati's Public Landing in a previous visit.

Two paddlewheel boats from the Louisville area are coming to Cincinnati for the first riverboat race in the area in more than 13 years. The American Duchess and the American Queen face the Belle of Cincinnati at 3 p.m. Monday at the Purple People Bridge.

The three riverboats will head up river to the bend in the river, before returning to the Serpentine Wall.

American Duchess Captain Randy Kirschbaum says his craft is built for luxury, and hasn't done a lot of racing. "I have one under my belt. Last year we were in the Great Steamboat Race at the Kentucky Derby, where we handily beat the Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati," he says.

"I used a few tricks against them that they weren't expecting because they weren't familiar with me. I'm not sure I can get away with those same stunts this year," Kirschbaum says. "I led them to believe that we weren't all that fast on the first leg of the race, and when we turned around and headed back to the finish line we showed that was not true, and we passed them. I sandbagged them."

Kirschbaum says he piloted boats to the Tall Stacks festivals, which celebrated the area's river history, and is looking forward to returning to Cincinnati.

The American Duchess and the American Queen cruise from New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville. The Belle of Cincinnati is captained by Alan Bernstein and calls Newport home.