The St. Albert Canoe and Kayak Club has had a hard go of things over the last year, but those rough waters are starting to look a whole lot smoother now. Some recent good tidings have given the club a boost of optimism in advance of the team’s appearance at the Western Canadian Canoe Kayak Championships in Leduc this weekend.
They recovered most of their canoes about a month ago near Thorsby when someone reported their discovery to the RCMP. It was last October when their trailer containing 26 boats was stolen, the total value of which was approximately $50,000. The team members figured that they would never see them again, let alone see them piled up in a ditch on the side of the road.
Club president Rick Hill said that good news about the recovery was tempered slightly by the fact that another thief came along before they could.
“They must have been in the trailer all winter and then this time of year, somebody just decided to get rid of them. So they dumped them in a ditch,” he said.
“We were happy to get these boats back. The person that found them and realized that they're probably the ones that were reported missing called Zak (Mahmoudi, the club’s coach) and told us about these boats. By the time he got the (new) trailer and headed down to Thorsby… there was about five missing from the picture that the fellow had sent. People just helped themselves to them while they were in this pile.”
The ones that they did successfully recover, however, also had rudder damage. Hill expects that each will take a few hundred dollars to fix up before they can be back in service.
There was no sign of the stolen trailer, however. Hill figures that's gone forever.
After the theft last year, the club also had to face being kicked off its previous home base at Kirk Lake southwest of the city due to safety reasons. Thankfully, their new water at Cardiff Pond to the north is actually a lot better.
“The kids love Cardiff. They all say it's a nicer lake than what we had before at Kirk Lake so they're all really quite happy with that move.”
The club has 20 of its members down at Telford Lake near Leduc now for this weekend’s competition. They’ll be going up against paddlers from Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton. The 200-metre and 500-metre canoe and kayak races are for age groups starting at 10 years.
It’s a buoyed course on a flat lake. The Westerns rotates between hosts from year to year. The last time it was held at Telford was only two years ago. Hill said that the club is in the middle of the pack but they’ve been practicing hard, including on some sweet new K4s, a variety of sprint kayak. They feel strong, he said, and intend on bringing the heat.
“Most of the athletes that make the Western Canada Games are between 17 and 19 but we have a pretty successful Bantam program that's doing well. That's doing quite well and they're progressing. We're pretty optimistic on how our team's going to go forward.”