The Squamish Windsports Society (SWS) received a much-needed gift last week when No Limits Motorsports of Squamish donated a brand new 2004 Bombardier Sea Doo for use as a retrieval vessel.
The Sea Doo will be used to assist windsurfers and kiteboarders who encounter challenging situations such as equipment failure or dying wind, while sailing at the Squamish training dyke, known to locals as the Spit.
The Society had been conducting a long, frustrating search for a replacement retrieval boat after the former vessel was decommissioned last summer.
"Cost and reliability had been the two main factors in finding a new boat - anything that we were able to afford wasn't necessarily seaworthy," said Jean-Michel Tremblay, SWS treasurer.
SWS director Keith Borg approached Corey Andrews at No Limits Motorsports last month to inquire about possible options. No Limits, an authorized Bombardier dealer, specializes in the sales, rental and repair of new and used snowmobiles, ATVs, and motorbikes, but did not carry watercraft.
Coincidentally, Bombardier had contacted No Limits a few days prior to Borg's visit in order to promote their new Sea Doo line. After speaking with Borg, and viewing his proposal on behalf of the SWS, No Limits Motorsports offered to purchase a Sea Doo from Bombardier and allow the Society to use it over the summer.
"To have access to a machine of this calibre is beyond what we could ever have dreamed", said Tremblay. "We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the good folks at No Limits."
SWS site manager Johara Sykes-Davis agreed. "The Sea Doo is an awesome machine- so versatile and powerful. It's just perfect for conditions in Squamish."
The Sea Doo will no doubt be put to good use, as the sport is growing at an impressive rate in the area. On a sunny day, there can be as many as 150 windsurfers and kiters using the spit its facilities, which include toilet facilities, change room, viewing bleachers and retrieval service. On-site staffing/ management will be present on windy days until Sept. 15.
The District of Squamish leases the Spit to the SWS each summer for use by its members and guests. The SWS is a registered non-profit society and has been actively involved in promoting windsports and recreational use of the Spit since 1988, with hopes of maintaining a strong working relationship with the District for years to come.
For liability purposes and to support site maintenance, an annual membership fee of $135 or a $10 day-use fee, as well as a signed waiver, is required from all windsurfers and kiteboarders using the Spit. There is no charge to spectators.
The Spit is a popular spot for tourists and locals, who are drawn by the colourful kites in the sky and by the phenomenal views. As Squamish is known for having strong, steady winds, it can be a very daunting location for beginners and novices, although the Society hopes that the return of the retrieval service will encourage new participants to the sport.
"We're always welcoming new members. It's such a relaxed and friendly environment," said Tremblay. "Experienced sailors are always helping others with gear selection and advice."