SYDNEY, NS — The surprising lack of water sports activities in scenic Sydney Harbor has been addressed by a new company of new Cape Bretoners.
Kayaks, paddleboards and jetskis can now be rented in the harbor from Cape Breton Watersports, a startup under the direction of Gunny Brar and his brother Guntas Singh Brar who moved here from India.
Gunny is a former Cape Breton University student and now a nurse, while his brother is a doctor who has started the two-year certification process to practice medicine in Canada.
While marveling at the beauty of the island, both had worried about the lack of activities in the area, especially for students and especially on the water.
They decided to do something about it.
“Initially, when the business idea started, it was about getting people to stay here,” Gunny said.
“I think Cape Breton needs more people. I think we have an incredible opportunity where CBU brings all these students and workers. We need to capitalize on that. We have to make sure that a large percentage of them end up staying here. I think that’s where the growth is, that’s my personal opinion.
The company moved first to Dobson Yacht Club and then to Sydney Harbour.
Cape Breton Watersports
• Owners: Gunny Brar and Guntas Singh Brar
• Locations: Dobson Yacht Club and Sydney Harbor
• Offers: Jetski, paddleboards and Kayaks. Soon the flyboard.
• Online: capebretonwatersports.ca
“People here, especially young people, are very excited,” Guntas said. “They want to do something in the summer, so water sports are a good thing to do.”
When the water is calm, kayaks are most in demand, he said.
“But when there’s a bit of waves and a bit of wind, jetskis are the most popular.”
Safety is at the center of guided tours and solo companies within a defined radius of their port locations.
“We’re going towards Coxheath,” Gunny said of the tours. “And then we also take them a bit to the Northside and the views are beautiful.”
The service has already proven itself to students and residents. Cape Breton’s cruise ship industry is considered a growth sector.
Further expansion plans are just plain cool considering the impending launch of flyboarding, an extreme sport that propels participants through the air using pressurized water.
They already have this equipment but are still looking for a scenic spot in fresh water to launch their flyboard which can propel participants up to 40ft, although 5-10ft is most likely.
“We want to do something different to attract people to Cape Breton,” Gunny said. “We tried to do something unique and the flyboard is unique.”
So far, his research has found no operational flyboard activities in the Atlantic region and only about two in all of Canada.
The brothers hope their entire water-based venture will be successful for a variety of reasons, especially if it allows international students to come to Cape Breton and stay.
“There’s something in the air that’s changed over the last two years that you can feel,” Gunny said.
“I personally love this place; I like people. This is one of the main reasons I stay here. I find that a lot of people end up moving because there’s not much to do. That’s part of the problem we’re trying to solve. We are part of the solution.”