Despite Challenges, Wet Dog Organizer Thinks Race is Possible


Erik Wander/KMXT

The Wet Dog team is making the journey from Anchorage to Bristol Bay in hopes of seeing a 2,000-mile race on personal watercraft become a reality in the near future. Judging from what they’ve learned so far, team members are optimistic about that likelihood. KMXT’s Erik Wander spoke to them when they stopped in Kodiak.

The goal of the Wet Dogs’ trip around the Alaska Peninsula is to lay the groundwork for the Alaskan Wet Dog Race. Team leader John Lang referred to the group’s current journey as "re-con work." Lang, who has been planning the trip for about a year, said that with weather delays and mechanical failures, he’s already learned some valuable lessons.

(Lang 1 34 sec. "To figure out what we need … for when people break down.")

On the trip from Anchor Point to Kodiak, one of the watercraft broke down twice due to electrical problems and had to be towed into Kodiak, after the team had already been delayed by fuel line troubles and unfavorable weather conditions. Team member Petr Bucinsky was changing the battery on his craft Tuesday afternoon in Saint Herman Harbor, where the group docked in Kodiak. Bucinsky, who has been jet skiing for about 25 years, described the sport as his "occupational therapy." He said that while the trip has had its challenges, it has been a rewarding experience thus far, being out on the water and working with the team.

(Bucinsky 1 20 sec. "It went very well … everybody is very strong.")

Gina Poths said her biggest regret so far was not making it to Kodiak in time for Crab Fest. She said the most challenging element of the trip is keeping the crafts going while pushing them to test their durability and endurance.

(Poths 1 34 sec. "It’s the whole biggest thing … oh, my gosh, what’s wrong?")

Lang said that despite the mechanical problems and other issues that have arisen along the way, his goal of making the race a reality is a reachable one. He said breakdowns are going to occur, but that he hasn’t seen anything yet that has changed his thinking.

(Lang 2 33 sec. "Those are going to happen … no show-stoppers yet.")

Team member Ralph Perez, who is involved in offshore personal watercraft racing in Los Angeles, said he came to Alaska to join the team because he liked what Lang was trying to accomplish. Perez believes the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in supporting PWC racing. He said there are a lot of misconceptions about PWCs in this country and agreed with Lang that the race is feasible, given certain conditions.

(Lang 1 48 sec. "Probably just a few bad … can perform in these waters.")

The Wet Dogs are travelling with a two-member film crew and a support boat. Their next stop is Old Harbor. Lang said that barring further weather or mechanical delays, the group should reach its ultimate destination, Iliamna, in about two weeks after rounding the Alaska Peninsula.

I’m Erik Wander.


HOST TAG: The Wet Dogs left Kodiak, bound for Old Harbor, this (Wednesday) morning.

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