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James Bond-worthy thrill rides planned on St. Marys River

High-speed Zodiac Hurricane offering rides here for nine days in August

A Thunder Bay company is planning to bring a super-fast Zodiac Hurricane 920 boat to Sault Ste. Marie for nine days this summer to test the waters for a possible business expansion here.

The Superior Rocket is one of three passenger vessels that Sail Superior Adventures operates out of Marina Park at the Lakehead.

It's a 90 km/h, 12-passenger, rigid inflatable boat (RIB), the kind used around the world by elite special forces, search-and-rescue teams and coast guards.

"The Rocket is constructed of aluminum and ringed with large air-filled tubes. Super-fast, lightweight, durable and incredibly seaworthy," says the T-Bay harbour tour operator on its website. 

"Canadian forces and most militaries around the world use Zodiacs on their missions. Just think of James Bond. There is almost always a chase scene with a RIB."

Indeed, when swashbuckling film heavyweights like 007, Lara Croft, Rowan Atkinson (John English) or Jason Statham are involved in boat chases, you'll often seem them piloting, chased by, filmed from or otherwise involved with an RIB.

At a board meeting on Thursday, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie decided to underwrite the August visit.

"Sail Superior is interested in testing the local markets and is proposing a nine-day trial period in Sault Ste. Marie this summer," Travis Anderson, the city's director of tourism and community development, told the meeting.

"The proposed dates for the 2021 pilot project would be Aug. 7 to Aug. 15, for a total of nine days of operations."

The harbour tour company would have to shut down its Thunder Bay operations during that time, so Tourism Sault Ste. Marie agreed Thursday to help with selling tickets and guarantee the $31,000 cost of the Sault trial.

Ticket sales will begin as soon as possible with June 15 set as cut-off date for a 'go-no-go' decision.

"If sales are not performing well by June 15, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie reserves the right to cancel the venture at no cost," Anderson said.

"In the event that Tourism Sault Ste. Marie decides to proceed with the venture, we will guarantee the remaining sales for their costs of operation in Sault Ste. Marie."

Anderson is hoping to sell 60 per cent of tickets by June 15. 

If a shortfall occurs, Destination Northern Ontario has stepped up to help, matching any city shortfall payments on a 50-50 basis up to $10,000.

Both Algoma Country and Destination Northern Ontario will help with marketing the venture.

If the target for advance sales is met by June 15 and subsequent ticket sales are disappointing, the exposure for Tourism Sault Ste. Marie would be about $6,200, Anderson said.

"I think that the invitation of the company to come to Sault Ste. Marie and see if they can make a firm commitment to this community is a matter that is well advised to advance the waterfront," said Joe Bisceglia, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie chair.

"If tickets aren't sold, we can back out of the deal by the 15th of June. With the assistance of Destination Northern Ontario, it's a worthwhile project," Bisceglia said.