Boat racing may return to Wrangell’s Fourth of July celebration this year. The Wrangell Chamber of Commerce puts on several events to celebrate Independence Day.  Races ended about 20 years ago due to an injury, and obtaining insurance for the event has been an issue since.

Spectators watch boat races from city dock. (Courtesy of Wrangell Chamber of Commerce)

Spectators watch boat races from city dock. (Courtesy of Wrangell Chamber of Commerce)

Event Co-Chairman John Waddington says the chamber has been trying to bring back the event for several years.

“In the past, the boat races were a big hit. They were something that people from Petersburg would come over to participate in,” Waddington noted.

There would be five different events for boaters to participate in. Four to five boats will race simultaneously around a track in front of city dock. There will be a limited class including boats under 150 horse power and an unlimited class. Boats of any size will be able to compete in that event.

There will also be a timed jet boat slalom, a roster tail competition and funny boat races.

“Which entails the contestants jumping off one dock, swimming to another dock, getting in their boat, performing  one lap around the track, parking their boat and swimming back to the initial dock,” Waddington explained.

Waddington hopes the event will attract more people to Wrangell’s celebration, and added that the competition will be open to anyone willing to compete.

“We are trying to really lift the level of excitement. We’re going to be advertising at the Seattle boat show towards the end of January, beginning of February,” he said. “Then we’re going to advertise all through Southeast Alaska, from Ketchikan to Juneau.”

The Chamber still needs to obtain a permit from the Coast Guard for the races. Waddington says that permit has been applied for. The Chamber will hold a meeting in the fire hall Saturday at 4 p.m. to inform the public on safety precautions and take community input.

Jay Einert is also co-chairing the Fourth. Clay Hammer will oversee the boat races.