The gusty winds found in Howe Sound make it a popular place for kite boarders but now another water sport will be making waves there. The first Canadian Surfski Championships will be held in Squamish on Saturday.

Surf skiing is similar to kayaking but the boat, or surf ski, is lighter, faster and smoother.  People sit on top of the surf ski and can control its direction with a foot pedalled rudder.

Bob Putnam, owner of Deep Cove Kayak and Race Director for the Canadian Surfski Champs, has been surf skiing for fifteen years.

"It's a full body work out," he says. "When you're paddling downwind with the waves you can feel the boat release. At first you feel out of control. It moves from being just a physical fitness activity to an adrenaline sport."

Surf skis are used around the world for surf lifesaving. Recently there's been more interest in surf ski racing in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Now interest is also picking up in Canada, with the first annual national championships this weekend.

Surf Ski racer Sean Rice

Surf ski competitor Sean Rice leads during the 2012 US Surfski Championships in San Francisco. The sport is gaining popularity in the U.S. and is now coming to Canada.

Eighty competitors from all over the world will race a 21-kilometre course on Saturday that tests their paddling skills and stamina. The race starts in Porteau Cove and ends in the heart of downtown Squamish.

The route is expected to challenge competitors with crosswinds, tidal currents, river currents, and a quick downwind finish into Squamish.