Wally Sokolowski

Wally Sokolowski served as the Executive Director of the Ontario Water Ski Association (OWSA) for 25 years from 1971 to 1995. During those years he made significant contributions to the development of the sport both in Ontario and across Canada. Sokolowski hosted and officiated, most often as technical controller, at numerous national competitions. He took the OWSA from a volunteer, home-based organization to a government funded provincial sporting organization. He initiated, organized and operated the WellandWater Ski Club and the Claireville Water Ski Centre. This involved building numerous water ski jumps and installing countless slalom courses across the province. He dedicated his life to water skiing. Sokolowski played a key role in the development of competitive water skiing in the 1940’s and 1950’s, before there was a Canadian Water Ski Association, Water Ski Canada or an Ontario Water SkiAssociation. He proposed and convinced the International Water Ski Federation (IWSF) to adopt a rule change for water ski jumping in order to improve the safety of the event. Additionally, he had the vision to foresee the environmental issues that would effect the future of the sport and he invested significant time and energy in promoting cable water skiing both in Canada and the United States. He flew at his own expense to Germany to investigate the design and requirements for installation and operation of a cable system. Sokolowski spent many winter months assisting in the development of Quiet Waters Park in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He worked tirelessly to initiate the development of a cable site in Canada but the only cableway, at Le Beach Club in Montreal, was not built until after his retirement. Wally’s vision and foresight has played a significant role in the development of our sport, both in respect to the technical competitive standards but also for the vision to foresee the significance cable skiing would play in the future of our sport. For this, Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada recognizes Wally Sokolowski as a Pioneer in its Hall of Fame.

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Eric Horton

Eric Horton is without a doubt, a pioneer in the world of wake sports. His innovative spirit has resulted in the evolution of speed control systems, and has helped to increase the international profile and competition standardization of wake sports. Horton was prompted to create the PerfectPass speed control system when, while towing his water skiing children around the lake, he realized the large role played by boat drivers in wake sports. As an engineer he began to play around with speed control system ideas. By the mid 1990s Horton had a working prototype of PerfectPass. As the creator of the speed control system, Horton is responsible for the increased accuracy with which boats are able to be controlled in competition. Also, this system allows for the standardization of training for athletes. The creation of this system has been revolutionary in that all current world records have been achieved behind PerfectPass. Additionally, the increase in fairness that comes with the use of this system prompted the IWSF to make electronic speed control mandatory for all IWSF sanctioned events beginning in 1997. As a result of this system, Horton has received numerous awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology for Atlantic Canada (2005), Sport Nova Scotia’s “Sports Make a Difference” award (2005), and honourable mention for the APENS Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Engineering (2006). In addition to the creation of this speed control system, Horton is heavily involved in officiating and rule development/implementation for national and international federations. His water ski officiating led to three consecutive nods as runner up in Sport Nova Scotia ‘s IKON Official of the Year Award (for all sports). Horton was influential in the creation of various rules and methods that serve to increase the degree of fairness and standardization of the participation in as well as the officiating of wake sports tournaments. He also consults regularity with the technical director of the International Water Ski Federation and various national water ski federations on issues concerning rules, tow boat and speed control. Eric Horton’s involvement with wake sports can be characterized as innovative and full of dedication. Both attributes that make his induction as the first pioneer into the WSWC Hall of Fame warranted and celebrated.

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