In June 5-11 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
STATE DOCK - Could Russell County soon have an attraction to rival the "Thunder on the Ohio?"
If Bill Jasper and the Offshore Super Series racing group has anything to say about it, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes it, yes.
Up to five classes of boats could be running in both time-trial style races called "Kilos" and circuit races just over five miles long on Lake Cumberland this summer. The big boats could be bringing a lot of entertainment to the lake on the weekend before the other big event on the lake, the annual Lake Cumberland Poker Run.
"There could potentially be some big name boats at this event," said Bill Jasper, president of State Dock at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park.
He said the "Kilo" is an individual boat race where competitors try for the fastest run. Jasper said this is a very popular race but there are not many available and no official Kilo race has been run in years.
Something both popular and rare brings out the competition he said.
Planned for the Labor Day weekend, Jasper said the races themselves will not take up the whole weekend nor will it "close" the lake. He said the events are run in heats and will be in the area from the dam upstream in the center of the lake about five miles to the junction at Otter Creek.
"Other boat traffic will just be asked to idle along the shore around the course," he said. "And that is just when they are running a race."
Jasper said the events like this one at other venues draw large crowds both in boats and along the shore.
"It'll be an awesome event," Jasper summed up.
Brandon Weppner, with Extreme Offshore Racing Experience in Louisville, said he and Jasper put the event together to bring something new to boating enthusiasts in Kentucky.
"For fans," Weppner said. "This will be an experience they've never seen here before."
He said this is the first time this type of boat will be raced in Kentucky.
"These are offshore boats, both catamaran and deep-V hulls, that are 30- to 50-foot long - they are capable of going 180 or 206 miles per hour," Weppner explained. "They aren't like the 'Thunder' boats which are hydrofoils that have to have pretty flat water to race," he continued.
"These boats are designed to go into the open ocean with rough seas." He said one of the races is from Miami Fla., to Bimini in the Bahamas and then back.
"These boats will travel five to eight feet in the air in rough water," Weppner said.
The racing is divided into classes from smaller boats with V-8 engines to the biggest turbine driven craft.
In all of them, he said, the two-person crew is secured in a canopied cabin with 5-point racing harnesses and they are surrounded by roll cages.
To keep spectators out of the race course he said they will have about 60 patrol boats along the course and, in addition to the Coast Guard helicopter presence they are expecting, he said the racing authority has helicopters with rescue divers that will also be patrolling the lake.
The two men said they are just finishing the details of the races and finalizing the okays with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"We've just finished organizing the Lake Cumberland Grand Prix," Weppner said. "Everything is by word of mouth right now with the Corps and the Coast Guard."
As of this Tuesday morning they were still finalizing the race course. "A surveyor will survey off an eighth of a mile of lake and that is called a speed trap," Wepper said describing the Kilo run. "If you put a dot at the dam, you'll have a mile and a half to get up to speed. Then they hit an electric eye that marks the beginning of the surveyed eighth of a mile and that starts the time clock. At the end of that they hit another. Then have a mile and half to slow down.
"After that they have 10 minutes to do what ever they want to with the boat and then they turn around and do it again," he said. "At the end we take both speeds and average them for the official speeds. Basically you go out, get up to speed, and show off how fast your boat will go."
The circuit race will be in the shape of a bow tie, he said. There will be two half-mile legs crossing the lake with turns at each end which head the boats first up then down the lake. He said the course pinches together in the center and flares out at the ends to have a longer course in a shorter amount of lake.
The Corps has not yet given final approval to this Labor Day weekend event, but both men said it would be a great shot in the arm for local tourism.
"All of this is contingent on the Corps blessing the event," Weppner added.
Moving ahead with the planning they are seeking helpers willing to volunteer to work at the race. For more on that contact Weppner at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the boats expected to attend and the sport on the whole, visit www.offshoresuperseries.com
As the event approaches check back in the Times Journal or our Web site www.russellcounty.net for more information on exact times for the races and the names of the boats that will be participating.
The event would begin a consecutive two-weekend period that would likely draw immense interest in Lake Cumberland. The weekend after the Kilo, the annual Lake Cumberland Poker Run takes place. Both are headquartered at State Dock in Russell County.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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