A Brief History of the SWC

by Ian Stewart

The original club in Saskatchewan was the "Saskatoon Windsurfing Club", which operated throughout the 1980's. In the early '80's windsurfing was still primarily on longboards, with only a few hearty souls who were trying out shortboards, known as "sinkers".

The Saskatoon club was quite involved with longboard racing, and would attend the various sailing regattas across the province. As a member of the SSCA (Saskatchewan Sailing Clubs Association), "sailboarders" would enter as one class along with Lasers, Hobie Cats, Enterprises and the various other sailing classes.

Gord Marsh was president of the Saskatoon club for most of those years. A separate history could be written about the Saskatoon club in the '80's, as there were so many great events as well as all the new developments in the sport (clamp on booms, harness's, etc).

When I moved to Saskatoon from Edmonton in 1984, I got involved with the club right away. I tried to race my "Windsurfer" against the likes of Gord, Terry Verbeke, Scott and Jan Cowan and Ron and Lori Keesh to name a few who were riding on Mistral One Designs. The regattas were a blast, and some provincial and national champions came out of that Saskatoon group, like Stefan Lidington and Steve Huszar.

In around 1990, the longboard racing scene started to drop off, while the shortboard freestyle scene was booming. I believe it was Glen (Maui) Murdock who was the first of our group to head down to the Gorge and come back with tales of "nuclear winds" in about 1985.

As fewer individuals were attending the sailing regattas on longboards, the Saskatoon club wound down its operation. It was about this time that I had moved down to Regina and started to meet some of the local sailors.

I had a preliminary meeting at my house on Dec. 1, 1991 to see what locals thought about establishing a Regina Windsurfing Club. On Jan. 4, 1992, the Regina Windsurfing Club had it's one and only meeting around my ping-pong table to establish a constitution and elect an executive, and to discuss sending a delegation to Saskatoon to meet with them about the possibility of forming a provincial club.

Present around the ping-pong table were myself, Terry Graham, Scott Goldie, Dave Skene, Randy Goulet, John Klein, Ron Lustig, Wendy Lustig, Jamie Janotta, Alphonso Verdejo, Graham Parsons, Mike Murray and Gord Cuttington. I was to be president, Scott - VP and Terry - Secretary/Treasurer.

On Jan. 18, 1992 we held the meeting at the Park Town Hotel in Saskatoon. Terry Verbeke was president of the existing Saskatoon Windsurfing Club. He along with Dale Denham, Murray Guy, Mark Doepker, Frank Boele and those of us from Regina agreed to establish the Saskatchewan Windsurfing Club. The past Saskatoon club still had a little money in the bank, and this helped kick off the new provincial club.

We originally had it that there would be two divisions; the North and the South. The executive for the North was Dale Denham - Pres., Mark Doepker - VP, Murray Guy - Treas., and Rob Theoret - Sec. The South executive was as noted above for the Regina club. The overall executive was to be Dale Denham - Pres., Ian Stewart - VP and Murray Guy - Sec/Treas., and then alternate these positions between the north and south each year. This arrangement did not last long before we simply had one executive for the whole club.

There was also a pretty vibrant group of windsurfers from Swift Current, including Carl and Danette Salter, and Jim and Isabelle Wright. Along with these and many others from Speedy Creek and other parts of the province, and the 40 plus members from Saskatoon and 40 plus from Regina, the club at its largest was over 100 members.

The primary objectives of the SWC as laid out in the constitution are:

  1. Represent and promote the interests of local windsurfers in the province.
  2. Provide a means by which members can buy, sell or trade new and used equipment.
  3. Organize and promote windsurfing events, clinics and competitions.
  4. Affiliate itself with the Saskatchewan Sailing Clubs Association (SSCA), Canadian Yachting Association (CYA), Windsurfing Canada, and the Canadian Masters Windsurfing Association.

The many club members throughout the years have shared a common bond; that is the exhilarating freedom felt when the sailor, rig and board become one with the wind and the water. We celebrate this oneness with nature at our annual "Wind and Water Weekend" with a wind ceremony around the campfire, complete with wind warriors, witch doctors, fireworks and sacrifices.

One of the greatest aspects of the club throughout the years has been the events. The events have brought like minded people together to share their experiences, camaraderie and love of the sport.

The Ski Shop sponsored the first "Wind and Water Weekend" in 1986, and this event has run every year since. It may well be one of the longest running windsurfing events in history. The 20th Anniversary will be on June 16-18, 2006 and will be sure to go down in history itself, so don't miss being there.

Some of the earlier regattas back in the '80's were held all over the province including Mountain Madness at Blackstrap Lake, Tumbleweed Worlds on Wascana Lake, Jackfish Lake at North Battleford, Emma Lake and Candle Lake near Prince Albert, Redberry Lake, Lake Diefenbaker and Last Mountain Lake.

There were even sponsors back then. A regatta at Candle Lake was sponsored by Captain Morgan's Rum (this was one of my favourites), some of the Mountain Madness events were sponsored by CopperTone.

The strictly windsurfing regattas (we didn't really call them regattas) started back in the late '80's with Wind and Water as previously mentioned. But there was also the Speedy Creek Slalom at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, which ran on the August long weekend throughout the 1990's. I think the last one was in 2000. Carl and Danette Salter were instrumental in making those memorable events happen.

We also had the Round Lake Roundup, headed up by Bill Plumb, which ran approximately 1993 to 1995. Sailing through rainbows was one experience there. Another event that ran for a few years in the early '90's was the Dam Slam at Danielson Provincial Park.

In the mid '90's we held a couple of Speed Trials. One was at the north end of Last Mountain Lake with Bill McGilvary sporting some speed needles, and another at Dundurn.

The most famous event the SWC sponsored was the brain child of Jack Chandler (Mark's Dad, and Murray's boss at the time). It was the Rowan's Ravine Downwinder in 1993 for $1000. cash prize. Many paragraphs can be added here for all the fun that was had. Soccer with buoys in the big tent….

An event that was born out of that one is the Knarly Man at Gibbs Beach on Last Mountain Lake on the May long weekend for about the past 10 years. Some of the knarliest wind and waves I have ever sailed in have been at this event.

The club has hosted the Provincial Windsurfing Championships since 1995 on the Labour Day Weekend at Regina Beach. This has been knows as the Schlog 'n Slam due to the unpredictable winds. The year the Austin Powers movie came out, we called the event the Shag 'n Slam, which got us an honourable mention in a British windsurfing magazine.

We have also hosted two National Windsurfing Championships. The first in 1994 at Elbow on Lake Diefenbaker, with Dale Denham at the helm, was the Tutor Canadian Windsurfing Championships, and was hugely successful. Rob Mulder from Roberts Boards in Vancouver drove across the prairies thinking someone played a joke until he came over the hill at Elbow to see the huge lake with miles of white caps.

The second Nationals was at Regina Beach on Last Mountain Lake ten years later in 2004, and was also recognized as one of the best ever. Steve Huszar was at the helm for this one, and like the first one, a lot of work went into the planning and implementation by a lot of dedicated SWC members.

Other events the SWC has been involved with have been the Waskimo winter festival in Regina, when snow sailing was popular. Kiting has since wiped out the desire to rig up a windsurfer sail and go out on the snow. However, in 2000 we assisted Barney Kenney in sponsoring the World Ice and Snow Sailing Championships at Blackstrap Lake. This was an incredible success, with competitors from across Europe, Russia, Canada and the USA competing in snow sailing with windsurfer rigs on all kinds of contraptions, Skimbats and the first and fastest kitesailing.

Another world class event was held next door in Manitoba at Gimli in 1994. It was the Windsurfing Worlds with hundreds of competitors from over 50 countries. It was the same year we held the Nationals at Elbow, so only a couple of us from Saskatchewan were fortunate enough to attend this incredible event. Stephan Lidington competed at a high level there, and I competed in the Masters class.

Many of our members have gone out of province to represent Saskatchewan or even just themselves. A few of us went to the Canadian Nationals in Squamish, BC in 2003. This story requires its own chapter. I have been fortunate enough to compete in regattas outside the province and I know we have had a lot of other SWC members compete in a lot of different places and at some very high levels. We will elaborate more on this as we get the information from the likes of Stephan Lidington, Steve Huszar, Torsten Tabel, Scott Goldie and others.

Throughout the history of the SWC, we have held many clinics and courses all around the province to raise awareness of the sport. We have built up a fleet of training boards and higher end equipment complete with a club trailer. Members have helped do the training at various venues throughout the years, with Mark Chandler and Art Hosie most involved these days.

Some of the fondest memories club members share, are the stories from the trips they have taken either together, with their families or alone to the worlds most awesome windsurfing locations. These include the Columbia River Gorge, Maui, Oregon Coast, Squamish and Nitnat in BC, Keho, Stafford and Old Man Dam in Alberta, Lake Winnipeg, the Great Lakes, Texas, Florida, and of course Cabarete DR, Margarita Island, Baja east, Baja west, Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, Aruba and above all, Coronach, near Big Beaver, Saskatchewan.

The glue that has held the club together throughout the years has been the club newsletter, "Wind Addiction", which I believe Terry Graham named before there was a retailer by the same name. Terry was the original newsletter editor and no one has surpassed his professionalism at producing a great newsletter.

Now of course, we have the internet and finally have our own club website. We have had exposure through the years on the SSCA site under www.sasksail.ca, plus Terry had set up the Yahoo "windandwater" group site. Having this "brief" history digitized will be helpful for whenever we want to elaborate on stories, add photo links, or just plain change history.

The history of the club is rich in fond memories, especially considering a lot of us have raised families along the way. I remember Lisa, pregnant with Caitlin trying to sleep in the K-car with a wet smelly Kato, while it was pouring rain in the middle of the night at Elbow. I of course was in the party tent assisting Murray with plans for the next days activities.

Now 16 years later, Caitlin and Mitch, along with Jarred Janotta took windsurfing lessons in April in Maui. The club past was rich, the present is awesome with kiting complementing windsurfing to keep that oneness with the elements alive through all seasons, and the future is going to be absolutely awesome, with new sailors and kiters getting involved with the club, new families growing, more kids sailing, new equipment and new trips and events. Can't wait…

Shred Hard….Nothing Else Matters