On Thursday, June 8, 2017, the gun goes off in Port Townsend, WA and North America’s longest human and wind powered race begins!
The Race to Alaska (R2AK) is simple. You, a boat (no engines allowed), the wind and 750 miles of water. As the race organizers say, it’s like the Iditarod, on a boat. Except in this case, instead of a thousand miles of mountains and snow, you have squalls, killer whales, and tidal currents that can run up to 20 miles per hour! The winner of R2AK wins $10,000. Anyone else is just thankful to finish. The rest….well let’s just say in 2016, 44 teams entered and only 26 finished.
Stage One: Port Townsend, WA to Victoria, BC
The forty mile stretch from one country to another acts as a sort of proving ground, and is designed as both a qualifier for the full race or a nice forty mile “sprint” for those who just wanted to test the waters.
Stage Two: Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, AK
This 710 mile stretch is where the willing begin to question their life choices. Other than two waypoints along the way, Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, teams find their own way to Ketchikan. Facing all of the elements that nature and the seas can throw your way, many will tap out. The brave finishers will arrive in Ketchikan physically and mentally exhausted. Only one will receive $10,000 for their insane journey. The rest can boast that they traveled 750 miles on the high seas with nothing but the wind at their backs.
You can check out what teams are going to attempt the full 750 miles here.
The rest of us can cheer them on at Port Townsend at 5 a.m. on June 8 as they begin their journey or give the finishers the biggest bottles of whiskey we can find in Ketchikan, whenever they get there! In 2016, the winning team, MAD Dog Racing completed the race in 3 days, 20 hours and 13 minutes in a 32’ Cat – Marstrom M32 with a crew of three. The last team to make it in, Can’t Anchor Us, completed the race in 25 days, 11 hours and 57 minutes in a 17’ Mono – Modified Swampscott Dory, and a crew of ONE! Kudos to everyone who attempts the 2017 race, you are all some of the toughest people on this planet!!!
WHEN and WHERE:
Race starts on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 5 a.m. in Port Townsend, WA
Second start on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 12 p.m. at Victoria Inner Harbor, BC
Race Finish somewhere in Ketchikan – wherever the boats end up
Click here for more information on the course.
Lesley is the founder and editor of What’s Up NW. Prior to creating WhatsUpNW.com, she was the Seattle city editor for AskMissA.com. For both publications, Lesley has covered fashion shows, openings, and local charity events. She has written numerous articles shining the light on local businesses, encouraging readers to always shop local.