No boat is no problem for wakeskater Ryan McDougall. He uses a homebuilt onshore power winch and a 300-metre tow line to skate through areas where boats can’t go, including sandy shallows (best done outside the mid-June to early July fish-spawning season) and turbulent river mouths. “I got the idea from watching wakeskating videos with people using a winch,” says the auto-motive mechanic and Minden-area cottager. “I’d never seen one first-hand before building it.”
McDougall spent months tinkering with the winch. In new parts alone, it would have cost $1,200, but the inventor trimmed costs with used components. He welded the frame from 2″ tubing; powered the unit with a 6.5-hp engine from a pressure washer, tweaked for higher output; and added a custom exhaust and a performance air filter. The winch also has a continuously variable transmission, ordered from a go-kart supplier.
Power winches are more common in the US, but they’re still oddities in Canada. McDougall is thinking of building the units for sale. For now, the drawback of having the only winch around is the questions from curious spectators. “I spend more time talking than skating.”