Set sail for the Toronto International Boat Show and catch Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, performing her antics on the “world’s largest indoor lake.”
This year’s show from Friday to Jan. 17 at Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place puts some summer into your winter.
“This is the premier destination to discover all that is new and popular in boating and what you have to see to believe when it comes to fun on the water,” said publicist Tran Nguyen.
It’s a huge recreational pastime, with 44 per cent of Canadians — or 15 million people — participating in boating. Canadians own 4.3 million boats, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
As North America’s largest boat show, it attracts about 500 exhibitors and 80,000 attendees, with more boats sold than at any other place or event in Canada.
Whatever floats your boat is there including the latest marine gadgets and products, hundreds of boats of all sizes from customized pontoons, canoes and sailboats to luxury yachts.
Along with skills classes for all levels, there are about 200 free seminars, a kid’s fishing and boating zone, appearances by accomplished sailors and “jaw-dropping shows including wakeboarding and waterskiing.”
Catching a wave
Chuck and Lou Ann Best are bringing their rescued pet squirrel Twiggy from Florida to show her skills at waterskiing.
As well as being in several movies, Twiggy entertains audiences wherever she goes.
Show-goers can have fun on the water in a canoe, kayak or paddleboat and catch daily demonstrations of the fastest growing water sport, stand-up paddle boarding.
Instructors provide how-to classes on both wakeboarding and waterskiing.
New is a simulator from Ontario Sailing that offers innovative hands-on teaching.
There’s the Great Canadian Fish Tank, a huge aquarium stocked with Ontario marine life while experts show how to catch “the big one.”
Young fishing enthusiasts can try catching trout with Fish TV’s Leo Stakos, Ron James and Jeff Chisholm.
The show will pay tribute to the 85-year history of Greavette Boatworks of Gravenhurst with a variety of vintage boats and motors on display.
As one of the first boat manufacturers in Canada, Greavette boats evoke craftsmanship, design and speed, having built the fastest boat in the world, Miss Canada IV.
There’s an “interactive participation area” to get a photo in one of the iconic wooden boats.
The 41 sails designed by artists representing countries in last summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto will be on display.
Over at the boathouse, visitors can get tips on all topics related to boating, repairs, service, maintenance and more, including inspecting inflatable personal flotation devices for safety.
Eric Holden, 2014 Sailor of the Year and first Canadian skipper to win the Clipper Round the World Race, will be at the show, as will Matt Rutherford who sailed the North West Passage.
Photographer Sharon Green will show her vast collection of images from yacht racing.
For more One-Tank Trips
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IF YOU GO
The Toronto International Boat Show is at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place (100 Princes Blvd). Jan. 8-17. TorontoBoatShow.com; 905-951-0009
Preview Day is Jan. 8, 2-8 p.m., with a VIP experience to raise money for children’s charities. It includes live entertainment, food, beverages and the opportunity to bid on more than 100 silent and live auction items. Tickets are $100, Platinum, and $35, Gold.
Show hours are Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20, general admission; $17, seniors 65 and older; $20, unlimited weekday evening pass, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; $25, two-day adult pass; $20, two-day senior pass; free for children to age 16.
Valet and self-parking is available or take GO Transit or the TTC to the Exhibition Place stop.
Discounts are available at the official show hotels: Sheraton Centre Toronto 416-361-1000 and Westin Harbour Castle 416-869-1600.