Tony Escorts The Gyro Georgia Strait Charity Challenge

David Strang and Saul Hilchey used the power of wind and money Friday morning to help local charities and community projects.

The team paired up to raise $27,000 for the Gyro Georgia Strait Charity Challenge, which saw Strang pilot his windsurfer from Pipers Lagoon Park to Sechelt, a 40-kilomtere journey across Georgia Strait.

Strang made the crossing in one hour, fifteen minutes with the help of a 15-knot prevailing wind and a support boat provided by Tony Harris of Harris Mitsubishi.

“It was great to see Tony offer that help,” said Strang, a retired investment advisor. “We can’t do the crossing without an escort boat and Tony really stepped up, and those guys took a beating out there with three to four foot waves for a couple of hours. This effort is all about the community working together.”

Hilchey, an investment advisor at RBC Dominion Securities, said key corporate sponsors include Dynamic Mutual Funds ($7,500), Bank of Montreal ($7,500), Manulife Financial ($5,000) and RBC Foundation ($5,000). Garth Johnstone of Archie Johnstone Plumbing and Heating contributed $1,000, matched by RBC.

The money will be donated directly to the Salvation Army’s New Hope Centre, Forest Drive neighbourhood park, and the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.

This is Strang’s sixth crossing under the Nanaimo Gyro Georgia Strait Charity Challenge and the team has now bumped the total funds raised from all crossings to $150,000.

The event takes place every second year.

“We like to give our sponsors a little bit of a break,” said Strang. “These are hard times. Economically it’s more difficult. Big corporations are cutting costs and they don’t have as much money around. The credit goes to Saul, he raised all the money. I’m just the rider.”

The event began a few years ago when Strang’s friend, Moe Graham, eyed the other side of the strait one day and suggested they windsurf across. Strang suggested they do it for a cause, and the Gyro Georgia Strait Charity Challenge was born.

The Nanaimo Gyro Club raises and donates money for local charities, youth projects and city parks.

Donations are still being accepted by sending a cheque, payable to the Salvation Army, to Saul Hilchey at RBC Dominion Securities at 101-5050 Uplands Dr., Nanaimo B.C. V9T 6N1. Tax receipts will be provided.

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