A Tale of Two Classics; Don and his Wonderful Phazar

By John Morris

Yes, achieving a Guinness Book record is pretty impressive; not surprisingly, there is a designation for the world’s oldest water-skier. For a few months in 2021, that title belonged to then 92-year-old Ontarian, who set the record on Bella Lake near Huntsville, ON. Three months later, an American, Tibor Kupferstein (then 93!), eclipsed that record in Delray Beach, Florida. This past August 2023, Fox News reported that Ejnar Dyrr is a 94-year-old from Utah attempted to set the record but for seated waterskiing.

However, these guys are all puppies and will be shown up eventually when Don Magee heads back to the waters of Balsam Lake. Why is this so remarkable? That’s because at 82, not only does Don still waterski but he also drives and maintains a stunning Doral Phazar that every boater, particularly in Canada, covets.

The boat is a 2004 Doral Phasar 245 with an 8.1L Merc’ 496 delivering 425 HP. Working his way through the passing of his wife in 2008, one of the care providers spotted the Phazar at Boatmax just south of Barrie on the 400 and suggested it as a mood lifter for Don. He baptized it Gail Force.

Even though the boat is just two decades old, it screams retro in the warmest possible way stopping traffic wherever Don goes. He keeps Gail Force in splendid shape – look at the photo! What graphics – yellow yet! And how cool does grandson Gradyn look on Grandpa’s lap!

The age of high-performance boats, like performance cars, may be slightly off-trend these days but like an old V8 Mustang, the Phazar was built to thrill and still does. “It can pass everything but the gas dock,” Don chuckles with a hint of mild disdain for the politically correct.

The Phazar was built, as almost all Doral boats were, in a shop in Grandmere, Quebec. At the time the Prestancia had just been launched and when this unknown company from an unheralded Quebec village appeared at the Chicago Boat Show in the late 1990s, a surge of U.S. dealers helped make the brand a competitor to even the biggies like SeaRay. Doral became the boat of choice and thus spawned the Doral Phazar.

Don Magee grew up in boats on those Kawartha Lakes where his family cottaged since the 30s. Don waterskied endlessly off the dock (often with an attractive ski helper on his shoulder, he recalls.)

A mere 65 years later, not much has changed. He always likes to go fast and the Phazar gets its carbon blown out at 58 or so – he admits to a bit of a lead foot. In the winter he and Gail always drove fast snowmobiles and the tradition continues in the Phazar every year. “Water is therapy,” says Don.

If you’re around Balsam Lake this summer, look for Don at the helm towing the gang, on skis behind the boat and, in a few years, setting some new records for fast times, skiing and family fun!

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