The Greater Edmonton Racing Canoe and Kayak Club is pleading for help after its trailer full of competitive boats was stolen earlier this month, placing many of its athletes in a precarious situation when it comes to training.
Head coach Zak Mahmoudi said the trailer was temporarily being stored beside a Quonset on Riel Drive in St. Albert and contained approximately 30 boats, which are carbon fibre, made in Europe and worth roughly $50,000.
“What are we going to do for the season?” he said.
“We have no boats to compete on. [Members] can’t compete anymore right now if we don’t get these boats back.”
Members of the club rallied Saturday morning at the site where the trailer was parked to show their support for the organization. Some carried signs reading “Help us find our boats” and “Can’t float without a boat.”
Mahmoudi said it would have been a busy few months for the club with an upcoming spring camp, the Western Canada Games in August and national championships also in August.
“We store our boats in the trailer to go to Florida next year to do a spring camp. Now I don’t think we can go anymore if we don’t find the boats,” he said.
The club, which is a non-profit, has more than 30 members, including Aiden Stock.
The 15-year-old is a competitive canoeist and has been a member of the club for the past five years.
“It really creates a big problem,” Stock said of the stolen boats.
“I’m planning to go to training camp in April and in the next summer, I’m trying to go to nationals again and the Western Canada Games. It’s really hard to do that without a boat.”
Casey Schell used to coach the team and paddle with the club.
“It’s really, it’s just not fair,” she said.
“To have someone take our boats, being a low-funded club and not out east where everybody is, it really sucks.”
Schell said it is a blow to the many kids and teens who are in the club.
“These kids don’t deserve it. They work so hard to get where they are. We work with what we have and now we don’t have anything.”
Tony Flores is a para-athlete who previously competed in three world championships and was a member of the national team for five years. He now trains with the club.
Flores said he is still digesting the news about the stolen boats.
“Sports is supposed to be a positive thing. It’s supposed to empower people to do some good for the community but this is really an unfortunate thing. This is a blow for our club.”
Mahmoudi said the club does not have the funds to rent boats and would need to raise money to buy new boats if the stolen ones can’t be found.
“We spent 10 years saving money to buy these boats. Now we don’t have these boats anymore in the club. We’re so hurt,” he said.
Mahmoudi is asking the person or persons who stole the trailer to return the equipment.
“Put them in a visible place so the public can see that. They can call so we can get these boats back. They’re so important for us.”
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Landry with the Alberta RCMP said the trailer was reported stolen between Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 5 p.m.
Landry said the boats have not been found yet, and no arrests have been made.