Beginning today, DNR will consider public comments submitted for and against the proposed Wet Dog race, which would begin May 1, 2013, and run from Whittier across the Gulf of Alaska to Lake Iliamna.
Teams of two personal watercraft apiece will move from checkpoint to checkpoint in race packs of about 70 people.
Organizer John Lang said the state’s approval is the biggest remaining obstacle to the event.
A large number of competitors — Lang declined to give precise figures — have sent in letters of intent.
“I currently have so many that I said OK, we’re going to shut it off at 500 (entries),” he said.
That would mean 1,000 competitors and their Jet Skis, but Lang said Kodiak residents shouldn’t be alarmed about the possibility of that many people coming through.
“We’re going to take care of the logistics for the riders themselves,” he said.
That’s part of the reason for the high price of entry to the race: up to $35,000 per racer.
Lang compared that to the costs involved with the Iron Dog, Alaska’s longest snowmachine race.
“When you think about the Iron Dog, they pay $3,000 to $4,000 just as an entry fee,” he said. “Now I have a good friend running in that, and he says it’s going to cost him $38,000 per person.”
Supplying all required materials is a big boost to international participants, Lang said. He has received letters of intent from 37 countries.
That kind of international interest and spending on necessities means a big injection of money into communities hosting the race.
“We’re always looking for support services, whether they’re planes, boats, hotels ... any business that would fulfill a need,” Lang said.
The Wet Dog won’t be asking for volunteers. It will pay for those services, said co-organizer Tom Kruger.
“We’re not looking for any freebies,” he said.
Businesses interested in providing services can fill out a market survey at the race website, www.wetdograce.com.
Assuming the state approves the race’s permit, advance expeditions will begin traveling the race route about May 1 this year.
“We (will) begin our very aggressive coordination effect,” Lang said, “and start working with these towns to say what do we have to help.”
These “paving the way” expeditions also will give Wet Dog organizers a chance to test their safety protocols. Lang said each race pair will use redundant communications and location systems, including marine radios, satellite telephones, GPS locators and emergency rescue beacons.
Those come in addition to a fleet of more than 120 hired charter and fishing boats that will assist the race fleet as it progresses through Alaska’s coastal waters.
“It’s taken 10 years of planning and talking,” Kruger said. “Once the permit goes through, it’ll actually be official.”
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.