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By Zoie Koostra

Hydrofoilers' 10th Annual Invitational Takes Place on Seeley Lake


Zoie Koostra, Pathfinder

Chris Tee, of Medicine Hat Alberta, goes airborne for a flip on Seeley Lake as part of the Seeley Lake Hydrofoilers' Invitational event May 27. The invitational does include some contests but its main purpose is for friends to get together.

SEELEY LAKE - Sixteen-year-old Bailey Boyles shouted "Hip hip!" and the boat she was trailing behind accelerated, allowing her to sit upright on her hydrofoil. The group of people in the boat cheered as she rode, they were all members of her family or other hydrofoilers that her family had known for years.

The 10th annual Seeley Lake Invitational hydrofoiling event took place over this Memorial Day weekend, hosted by Missoula residents Keith Gyles, his wife Robin and Seeley Lake resident Woody Goodan.

Hydrofoiling is a water sport that uses a board attached to a foil which allows the rider to rise above the water. The board then has a seat that the rider sits on while they are towed behind a boat. Experienced foilers can do tricks and jumps, but among the families participating in the invitational, it is a sport for all ages and abilities.

Ben Ferney, 43, said that the invitational is a chance for the group to catch up with friends and hang out.

"Hydrofoiling events has events that are open to everyone called fly-ins," he said. "This is an invitational because if we threw it open to anyone, we'd get slammed."

Rob Reid, another foiler at the invitational said that the small community is one of the best parts of the sport."

"Just because you play golf, you don't get to golf with Tiger Woods, but [with hydrofoiling] you can ride with the best people in the sport and be coached by them," he said. "Ben here [referring to Ferney], is one of the top riders in the country."

Rob, 41, said that the entire family can be included in the sport. The setup of the board and being able to sit down makes it easier on the body than water skiing.

"We have riders as young as five, up to guys in their 80's," he said.

The Gyles began hydrofoiling, which is also sometimes referred to as the sky skiing or sit skiing, when they were 40 after Robin tried out a friend's hydrofoil. Nearly 20 years later, their children and grandchildren, like Boyles, are doing it too.

Zoie Koostra, Pathfinder

Chris Tee, of Medicine Hat Alberta, does a flip on Seeley Lake as part of the Seeley Lake Invitational event.

Robin, who helps host the Seeley Invitational, has been gradually getting better at putting on the event over the last 10 years.

"Planning for it was challenging at first, because I didn't know what I was doing," she said. "But it's way better now. Some of these kids have been here since they were babies."

Which includes Bailey, who has been foiling for the last two years.

"I mostly got into it because of my grandpa, Keith," she said. "He's really passionate about it. It's a hard sport but I think that's what makes it fun."

As one of the event's hosts, Keith always buys the entire group of kids at the event an ice cream every night.

"It's just a tight family," he said. "So if you see a mass of kids all walking to the ice cream place, that's us. It's a tradition."


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