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March 18, 2007

40th Swag for your Tale

I received some good news this week. An old friend of mine is moving from Japan to the US to oversee our testing group located in Minocqua WI. This got me to thinking about the first time I met the man and the many encounters we have had since, consequently leading me to the following idea.
We are putting together the spring edition of Horizons magazine. I would like to add some stories to honor our 40th snowmobile anniversary.

So here’s the deal. Try to think back to your first entertaining encounter with a Yamaha sled, an interesting person or an unusual event connected to an old Yammie. Post your story here on Sled Talk by clicking on comments (see the Faq). If we publish your story in Horizons, I’ll dig into the genuine YPA Swag bag and send you some cool 40th gear.

I’ll go first. Getting back to my old friend moving to testing, we first met out in BC. We were to confirm some high altitude settings and investigate some service issues (note: we don’t call them problems. lol)
A hand full of factory engineers and two of us from the Vancouver office started up a logging road towards Powder Mountain located between Squamish and Whistler. The forestry road ended at a small alpine lake. In order to gain access to the riding area, we needed to cross the lake and climb up a long steep ‘grape-vine’ ravine to get above the tree line. It had been snowing heavily all night and was still white out. I stayed back on my 87 Exciter but when we hit the lake I felt ‘overflow‘ sucking me in so I got on it hard and passed a couple of sleds and started climbing up through the trees. There were sleds stuck everywhere, I kept climbing finally punching through the last track and broke trail to the top. No one else was coming behind me then I heard it. One more machine made it up, the brand new proto-type Ovation buzzed up beside me with this young engineer, grinning ear to ear holding onto the bars. I’m thinking, of all the sleds we had with us the little 340 would have been the last one I figured to make that climb. I asked him should we go back down and start digging out sleds. He’s says ‘no way, they must learn’, so there we sat, ‘swapping lies’ for the better part of an hour. Turns out he had real love for snowmobiles. He actually owned his own machine in Japan (a rarity) where he kept it up in Hokaido and spent his weekends poaching trail, partying and chasing girls.

This was the beginning of my friendship with Masayasu Saitou, which we tested in fine fashion later that night in Whistler village, draining their sake supply. He worked his way up through engineering from durability rider right through to project leader of SRX. Yep, he was the guy behind big blue. The four-stroke revolution saw Saito transfer from testing engineer to product planning. He had a good understanding of the Canadian and European markets and pushed hard for models and variations to help us, namely the RS VentureTF and new VK Professional.

So it’s with great pleasure I welcome back Saitou-san to North America, it will be good to have him at the helm.
What’s your story? Please give it some thought and drop me a ‘comment‘.

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Posted @ 9:25 am in Yamaha Insights   

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6 Responses to “40th Swag for your Tale”

  1. Glenn Deveraux says:

    Great story, great blog. Its good to see that the passion for our sport burns strong within those who plan, design and test the future models. Hey Chris, I remember you from a string of TV and magazine “new model” intros; you’re the face of Yamaha snowmobiles. Keep up the good work.
    My first encounter with a Yamaha snowmobile (any snowmobile) came when my dad bought a brand new El 433B. I was only a little kid but I remember riding along as a passenger, in front, clinging to the cowling for dear life while two-stroke smoke and the snow zipped by. Being too small to see anything but a close-up view of the intake system, I learned from the sound of the engine when I had to hold on tight and when I could relax to enjoy the ride. When it was time to go, I always got to press the electric start.
    Its been a couple of decades between then and now but I still get the same feelings when I turn the key of my Nytro as I did back then. Excitement, adventure, freedom, the only difference is now I get to see where I’m going and of course, I get to drive.

    …Thanks Glenn, you know there are a lot of good people working in this industry and I think the successful ones are born from the same passion you refer to, a deep connection to the sport, same as yourself. It’s good to be reminded of the delight resulting from the initial rush of our first rides. Funny you mentioned the electric start, my young daughter won’t let me start any of our toys… that’s her job!
    I really enjoyed reading your words… cheers cr

  2. Larry D Lagergren says:

    Hey Chris;
    What a great story and a great site, nice to see that the powers above live and breath “YAMAHA” like some of us comsumers. Growing up as a kid I lived for snowmobiling all year long, When I seen my 1st Yamaha Snowmobile in 1969 I was hooked. After absolutely hounding my parents for this sled they finally gave in and we were the proud owners of a SL351 from Northwest Cycle, that was the beginning of a long term love relationship with Yamaha snowmobiles. I remember driving it with my dad suspervising me; how I wanted to gun it and let it rip, all 24hp I believe. I’ll never forget pulling in to gas up and everyone else was waiting their turn to use the steel gas can so they could mix their fuel. My dad just popped open the gas cap and filled it up, I was so proud as the on lookers just seemed to be amazed by this just add fuel process. Yamaha has led the rest with Many Many 1st and I’ve been on board the whole time, I’m still as proud today of Yamaha as I was back some 38 Years ago.

    Thankyou Yamaha for bringing the FUN FACTOR into my Winters.

    …Larry D Lagergren

  3. Larry D Lagergren says:

    Well like most kids growing up we want everything right now! My next Yamaha Snowmobile Just Had To Be MINE, ALL MINE. My parents said if I could come up with half the money they would cover the rest. My mission was a 1973 GP338, 32HP, TWIN CYL, TWINN CARBS, SPEEDO, TACH for $949.00 at North West Cycle. I was going to school and so many part time jobs, I remember falling a sleep at the dinner table. I remember working jobs doing anything to raise that money, I was going to have that sled no matter what. At one point my parents even said that was enough, but I really wanted to hold up my end of the bargin. Well come September those new sleds hit the showroom floor and I was down there the next day on my bike. I had saved up 3/4 of the money and my new sled was there just waiting to be taken home. By the weekend I had my very 1st Yamaha Snowmobile, in which I polished almost every day. Of course I was just beaming and had to show my friends my new sled. I believe I drove everyone crazy that fall as winter just couldn’t get here fast enough that year.

    Thanks again Yamaha, you made growing up a real part of my life.

    …Larry D Lagergren

  4. jmp2204(totallyamaha/hcs) says:

    In the winter of 78 my father let drive our sl433f by myself for the very first time(i was 12)so i was riding down this club trail that was close to our house, it comes to a tee and was icy at the intersection.of course i wanted to get this thing sideways, i did and rolled it!i broke the windshield off it and that was about it for damage…..(yes i got in trouble ) .but , after i got up ,got the sled back over(it was on it’s side) i saw the coolest thing that hooked me.a 78 srx,that guy came by me gave me a wave then hammered it! coolest sounding thing i’d ever heard! the next year my father bought me a 77 et 250(340 eater,doo cat pol.) from then on i’ve been on yammies,the only years i’ve been disappointed were the 5-600 vmax years…the 700 sx is still one of my all time favs. but the 78 srx has always been the coolest…..

    … gotta love it man, You’re barely on your first sled (a one lung 250 at that) and the first comments about eating the competition!!!!! ‘Old habits die hard’ ;-))) cr

  5. Scott says:

    Back when I was a freshman in high school a sled came riding down the street in front of my parents house. This sled didn’t look like anything I had ever seen before. It was black, angular and just plain mean looking. I remember thinking at the time that it was like Darth Vader. The snowmachine simply looked like it came from the future, especally when compared to the looks of our Polaris Galaxy 440 and TX 250. The sled that made such an impact on me was the Yamaha Vmax 540. In fact, I’m still enamored enough with the looks of the sled that I’ve been watching the for sale ads looking for a clean, low priced machine.

  6. Stephen Burdick says:

    Well, where to start……….

    I have been a Yamaha rider since 1987,when my dad purchased a 1988 Yamaha Phazer. I had been riding a smaller brand “X” 250 cc single fan cooled sled. I remember wanting to ride that cool Phazer nearly night and day, and fortunately my dad let me (Thanks Dad). In 1989, my mom and dad bought matching 1990 Phazer II in red and white, and it was my chance to have the 88′ phazer all to myself (Thanks again Dad). Since those great days spent riding phazers through the woods of New England (I am from the USA, but married a Canadian from BC – that makes me atleast 1/2 Canadian, Eh?) my family has been brand loyal and have lived on Yamaha Snowmobiles. I currently still own the following vintage and new sleds:

    1968 SL350
    1969 SL351
    1970 SL338
    1971 SL292
    1973 SR433
    1976 SRX340
    1990 Phazer II
    1992 Vmax-4
    1994 Vmax 500 Deluxe
    1999 Vmax 500 Deluxe
    2000 Vmax 600 Deluxe
    2002 SX Viper
    2003 RX-1
    2007 Phazer FX
    2007 Phazer GT
    2008 FX Nytro MTX

    While I dream of where yamaha will go in the future, I also drool over where they have come from. I enjoy taking the old iron out for others to see on the trail, and really am excited to have some of the pivotal sleds that Yamaha has produced. I still desire a few other key models, but am fortunate to have what I have.

    I feel blessed to be able to ride each winter with friends, family, and other fine enthusiasts. Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.

    Steve Burdick

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