This summer, Ski-Mazing Watersports School is celebrating its 20th year in the water-tainment business.
It was founded in 2003 by Craig Bowker, an avid water sports competitor and enthusiast.
Bowker started the business with just two instructors and a slalom course on Drag Lake. The following year, he was asked to provide programming for the Wigamog Inn on Lake Kashagawigamog. That was followed by a move to Bonnieview Inn.
This year, they’ve relocated to the Red Umbrella Inn on 12 Mile Lake in Minden.
Bowker said parasailing has become more than half of the business, so they’ve added a second location, strictly for parasailing, in Muskoka.
The school began with water sport lessons, in all disciplines of towed water sports, and then transitioned into resort services by adding jet ski and other equipment rentals, weekly ski shows, parasailing and flyboarding. They’ve done kids’ day camps, and pontoon boat cruises.
“We are one of a few companies in all of Ontario that offer the Flyboard and the Jetovator,” Bowker added.
Not long after the school began, Bowker enrolled his entire team in the SkiAbility Facilitators course to be able to offer water sports lessons to physically and mentally challenged participants.
Bowker has volunteered as the VP for Ski Schools, Clubs and Camps for Water Ski Wakeboard Ontario for many years and served as an examiner at Water Ski Wakeboard Canada’s Instructor’s Course.
He continued to contribute to the industry by serving on the development committee for the Rip & Ride program, issued by Water Ski Wakeboard Canada and the Long Term Athlete Development Program. He was also chosen to be the spokesperson for the national launch video production of Rip & Ride.
Bowker reckons he has employed 100 young people over the years, boosted County tourism, and been a founding member of the Adventure Haliburton Group.
Reporter gives it a go
I had the opportunity to experience parasailing for the first time with Ski-Mazing and it was incredible.
Bowker and one of the instructors, Kieran Hutchison, who has been with the company for two years, got me situated and prepared for the ordeal over 12 Mile Lake. It was an amazing view and incredibly easy. I’d say anyone, of any age, could give it a try.
Bowker said, “even though we offer extreme water sports, we all started as beginners. The majority of the reason we’re here is to help people get better and be more confident in the sport.”
They currently have five jet skis available for rental. They also offer customers the chance to experience trying out the Flyboard and Jetovator.
It appeared difficult at first glance, but after watching Bowker and his son, Spencer Bowker, use the two machines, it was less daunting to learn as they guided me every step of the way.
Bowker said the school has recently been sponsored by Algonquin Outfitters. “If people come to a ski school, they expect to have the best equipment. They can come here and have brand new skis and wakeboards from Algonquin Outfitters” Bowker said.
In his blood
Bowker said he spent every summer at the cottage with his family. He learned to water ski at the age of five and today has taught his own children to ski at the age of three. He’s trained with world champion skiers, wakeboarders, and bare footers and has competed in tournaments from an early age.
But he says with a smile, “my lifelong dream was to operate a ski school.”
Ski-Mazing Watersports School, Sky-Mazing Parasail Adventures – Haliburton and Muskoka, Haliburton HydroFlight – Flyboard and Jetovator can be found at the Red Umbrella Inn (redumbrellainn.com), 705-455-7697, skimazing.com.