BREAKTHROUGHS

Canadian researchers believe they may be getting close to a cure for jet skis

Researchers spent years watching Canadians drive quickly in no particular direction on a lake, only to pause, look around, and then drive quickly in another direction on a lake.

After years of watching Canadians drive quickly in no particular direction on a lake, only to pause, look around, and then drive quickly in another direction on a lake, researchers at Sudbury's Laurentian University believe they may have found a cure for jet skiing.

"Following a number of failed attempts to isolate the gene that makes people believe what is missing from a pristine outdoor environment is a plastic watercraft going a beaver's breath under Mach," says the research team's lead, Dr. Mark Golbey, "we decided to try a different approach: one that involves handing victims of the urge to jet ski a paddle, and teaching them to J-stroke."

While the new cure — provisionally called 'canoeing' — has so far only been tested on mice, hopes remain high amongst the families of those afflicted, and their neighbours, that the revolutionary new approach might one day save the nation's waterways from the estimated one in four Canadians adversely affected by jet skiing.

"It can't come fast enough," screams a sedate-looking loon on Quebec's Lac Sacacomie, as she forages at 4 a.m. on a Sunday in June, trying to get a bite to eat before the onslaught of poorly-driven personal watercrafts descend on her home. "Those things are a nightmare. I understand you flightless bipeds have to get your kicks where you can, but paying thousands of dollars for sore thighs? Tabernac."

The disease — a waterborne mutation of dirt-biking that epidemiologists have traced back to the late 70's, but that didn't achieve widespread attention until the arrival of Baywatch in 1989 — is believed to have claimed the weekends of millions of North Americans.

"Well first you gotta get the trailer connected, which means finding the hitch and getting your buddy to shout conflicting directions while you try to back the truck up," explains Regina resident, Gary Jarvis, walking a reporter through a day in the life of a jet ski sufferer.

"Then you gotta get down to the boat ramp before the other people do, otherwise you'll have to wait an extra hour to be bored in five minutes. That's usually when you realize you forgot the kill cord at home, and decide it's looking pretty choppy out there anyway, what's say we just head over to the beach? But the trailer prevents you from finding anywhere to park, so instead you end up going home and turning on the sprinkler. I tell you, it's worth it though, because the entire time you looked ready to go Mitch Buchanan on someone at the drop of a rip-current."

Hearing this story Dr. Golbey, himself a recovering Sea-Dooer, nods sadly.

"It's the biggest challenge for many personal watercraft users, or 'Yamakazis' as they call themselves: admitting that they have a problem."

He pauses, and rising from behind his desk, removes a picture from the wall of his office. It's of him and his children, enjoying a quiet afternoon while using cleverly-shaped pieces of wood and their arms to paddle across a lake in a streamlined boat. The boat cost about the same as a decent bike, will last for decades, requires little to no maintenance, and won't leave a trail in its wake of people remarking unfavorably on the character of its user.

"While we may never end jet skiing entirely," he says, choking up as he thinks of all the people he's annoyed, and water he's abominated, "my hope is that we can at least prevent it from spreading."

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About the Author

Paul Duncan

Paul Duncan is a Toronto-based writer, and creator of the satirical website The Out And Abouter.

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