Sprint boat teams are used to navigating the unknown — track setups aren’t divulged until hours before each race, leaving little time to successfully pick of the route’s finer points.
But there’s uncertainty, and there’s uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With confirmed cases rising and Clallam County paused in Phase 2 of the state’s plan to reopen activities, sprint boat racing is in peril this season at Port Angeles’ Extreme Sports Park.
Park co-owner Kelie Morrison confirmed the American Sprint Boat Pro Racing Series event set for July 25 at the park has been canceled, and the Sept. 12 sprint boat race, while still scheduled, is in danger of being axed.
“Like everything at the moment, we are at the mercy of when the phases pick back up again,” Morrison said. “We are still planning for a Sept. 12 race, but we don’t know if we will be able to hold that event. We are still holding out hope for September. As we were moving through this, it kind of looked liked we could potentially reach Phase 4 by September.”
Rising numbers of in-county COVID-19 cases coupled with similar statewide results have put a dark cloud over many summer sporting events.
Clallam County would need to reach Phase 4 in order to hold an event the size and scope of sprint boat racing, which routinely draws thousands of spectators twice a year to Extreme Sports Park.
Morrison said any previously purchased tickets, tent canopy spots or event sponsorships would be honored at a future race.
“We will honor anything for future races,” Morrison said. “Anybody who pre-ordered anything just stay tuned for more information.”
Morrison said attempting to plan the event amid COVID-19 uncertainty produces even more questions.
“There’s just a domino effect where one thing effects another,” Morrison said. “We can’t get insurance because we can’t get an inspection and get permitted because of the phasing. And we can’t approve vendors because they’ll need to be permitted, too.”
A number of race teams come from Canada, which is expected to extend the closure of its border with the U.S. from July 21 to Aug. 21 this week.
Races set for the state’s other sprint boat track, Webb’s Slough near St. John in Whitman County, also have been pushed back to Aug. 29 and Sept. 26.
Open to ideas
Morrison said park operators would like to hear ideas for other events at the park.
“If somebody else has a grand idea and wants to present something to us, we are open for suggestions,” Morrison said.
“People have brought up putting up a screen and holding a drive-in movie out here.”
For more information on Extreme Sports Park, call Morrison at 360-460-2601.