SOURCE: IJSBA World Record Holder Roger Danner

October 15, 2009 13:19 ET

IJSBA World Record Holder and Nashville, TN Resident Roger Danner Inducted Into Jet Ski Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - October 15, 2009) - Local entrepreneur Roger Danner will celebrate his International Jet Ski Boating Association World Record record-making jet ski run from New York to Miami when he is inducted into the International Jet Ski Hall of Fame Saturday, October 17th in Lake Havasu, AZ. An avid jet ski enthusiast and championship rider, in 1982, Danner became the only person ever to ride a stand-up Jet Ski cross-country in just seven days in an effort to bring more attention to the then-burgeoning sport.

"It is really an honor for this association to induct one the first pioneers of this sport. Roger Danner was the first person to make a long distance trip on a jet ski, setting the bar for people to achieve similar feats of greatness. Roger has been a supporter and figure head in this sport since its inception and we are very fortunate to have him in our family," says Scott Frazier, Executive Director, IJSBA.

Sponsored by Kawasaki, as well as IJSBA, and with an all volunteer crew of 12 members supporting his world record attempt, Danner set out from Sheep's Head Bay in South Brooklyn, NY on July 26th, 1982 with a jet ski and a BIG dream. He launched his adventure accompanied by his water crew on a 30-ft. formula racing boat outfitted with gear and staffed with Captain Joe, Keith Moore the mechanic, Bob Thomas as the radio operator, boat driver Tom Hargrove and Dr. Phillip VanVranken and Brutus, who was their watch dog, a half Great Dane and half German Shepherd mix. Danner also had a land crew which followed along and Brutus was a member of the land crew by day and was the watch dog on the boat by night.

The amazing trip took two years of meticulous planning but no amount of planning could have prepared Danner and his crew for the unbelievable adventures they encountered while trying to get him safely across miles of open ocean and the intercoastal waterway, from New York to Florida. As Danner passed the Statue of Liberty he faced 16-foot waves resulting from the wakes of passing freighters and ocean liners while he crossed New York Harbor. He quickly realized just how dangerous his feat really was. From fishing lines strangling him around his neck, to duck weed clogging up his engine time and again and stalling him out, Danner faced all kinds of obstacles as he made his way, little by little, down the 1300-mile stretch of water.

As he approached Atlantic City, NJ Danner lost communication with his land crew when his jet ski choked on duck weed and burned out the engine. Danner and his water crew had to resort to renting a helicopter to find the land crew and regain contact. They stayed in Atlantic City, NJ overnight and an overzealous crewmember decided to try his luck at the casinos in an effort to double their gas money, losing a good portion of Danner's funds for the venture and causing him to have to use his credit cards until more cash was wired to them.

The next morning, as they departed Atlantic City at daybreak, the accompanying crew boat ran onto an unforeseen sand bar south of Atlantic City, NJ. Not seeing his chase boat behind him, Danner turned back to find them, also running up on the sand bar and injuring his leg on a rope. There was a three-hour delay until the beached chase boat could be towed back in the water and they could be on their way. As the road crew began crossing the Chesapeake Bay in their bus, the low clearance of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel caused the land crew's antennas to be ripped off, delaying communication between Danner for a good six hours until the repair could be made.

Danner was also temporarily detained by the Marine Patrol for a few moments while passing through South Carolina for not honoring the no-wake zone. The Heritage Golf Tournament which was being played in the area stopped momentarily to watch Danner as he passed through. The patrolman who pulled Danner over to cite him with a ticket for not honoring the no-wake zone posting let him off with a warning, secretly wishing him luck on his world record bid and explaining to him that he had to pull him over because so many people were watching and it was the law. "With so many people watching the golf tournament, he told us he had to stop us but he'd heard about the run on the local news. He said, 'I had to pull you over so it would look like I'm doing my job. But I know what you guys are trying to do, so please go slow until I'm out of sight. Be safe and don't mention my name if you get stopped again. Good luck and God Speed to you,'" commented Danner about the officer.

Then there were the water's natural inhabitants, who were none too pleased to share their home with Danner as he made his amazing attempt toward Miami. "The chase boat had sucked up some trash in the cooling system in the Myrtle Beach area, and we had to stop to cool the engine down and back flush the system to get going again," said Danner. For Danner, it was time to set plan B into effect in an effort not to lose any more precious ski time. Danner put on a small backpack which contained his filled plastic gas can and his maps and took off down the intercoastal waterway toward Charleston Bay where he later met up with both of his crews. After departing Charleston, as he entered the intercoastal waterway, his jet ski started sputtering and ran out of gas. He knew that he would need to again fill the tank alone, since he'd left both his water and land crew behind. He stopped his jet ski in the shallows where he could stand on the bottom and fill the gas tank. As he started filling the tank he was looking at his maps. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the grass on the side of the bank move and then he realized that he was being pursued by alligators. His hands were shaking as he tried to put the gas cap back on the jet ski and he dropped his gas can and maps. He had only put in about 3/4th of the fuel.

The gas can and chart were floating in the water and he tried to start the jet ski, which wouldn't start because he'd run it down so far on fuel. The jet ski finally sputtered and started -- with the gators literally 15 feet away from him. "I stood up on the ski and saw one of them eating my map like a hot dog. The others were nudging the gas can. I said 'I'll see you boys later!! You ain't eatin' me for lunch today!'" said Danner. He did at 360 degree turn to see where they were before speeding off down the intercoastal.

Exhausted from long days standing gripping the Jet Ski, Danner had to have his hands and feet massaged by the fourth day into the trip to get his circulation back just so he could grab a few hours of sleep to finish the trip. But despite the near-death experiences and aching hands and feet, he pulled into the Bahia del Mar Marina in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on August 2, 1982 to cheering fans and supporters, completing his IJSBA World Record Jet Ski run in a record seven-and-a-half days.

Danner received press in the Miami and Nashville papers about his world record run, and was even immortalized in song when a friend penned "Roger Danner, The Kawasaki Cowboy" for him. The amazing adventure also helped a worthy cause as well -- the American Cancer Society. But even more important, it helped raise awareness and increase curiosity about a sport that has become world-renowned and respected today.

Danner is honored to be inducted into the Jet Ski Hall of Fame and takes his place humbly among others who have forged the way for the young water sport. Danner recalls, "I never once thought about being honored like this. I only wanted to prove something to myself those many years ago and I'm happy I did. It was an awesome experience that I will remember for the rest of my life."

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