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750-mile engineless boat Race to Alaska returns with a new twist

by Race to Alaska 27 May 2022 14:06 PDT 13 June 2022
Race to Alaska © Katrina Zoe Norbom

Race to Alaska is back for year six after a two-year Covid-induced hiatus. No motors or support allowed - the R2AK is about the physical endurance, saltwater know-how, and bulldog tenacity that it takes to navigate the 750 cold water miles from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska. "As these teams sail into the forgotten reaches of our coastal wilderness, the stories that do come out will be incredible," says Race Boss Daniel Evans.

First place wins $10K; second place, a set of mediocre steak knives. Teams embark on Stage 1, "The Proving Ground," from Port Townsend on June 13 at 5:00 AM; they have 48 hours to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and make it to Victoria, BC. June 16 at high noon marks the start of Stage 2, "To the Bitter End," the 710-mile trek from Victoria to Alaska.

Racing this year are prototype vessels like Team Skywalker on a foiling boat that looks like a TIE fighter. A team of four youth - 16.75 average age - called Mustang Survival's Rite of Passage are sailing a veteran Santa Cruz 27. Human-powered teams in kayaks and rowboats will be jockeying for position with go-fast boats, solo racers, and even those attempting to drag their engineless houseboats up the Inside Passage. Most just hope to finish, and the journey is what is celebrated.

This year, the removal of one of only two waypoints between Victoria and Ketchikan, Seymour Narrows, gives racers the choice of going up the inside of Vancouver Island or going out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Pacific Ocean—opening up a new realm of possibilities as teams endeavor to solve the R2AK puzzle.

The public is invited to come to the Northwest Maritime Center on June 12th to meet the teams and celebrate their impending adventure at the Ruckus - a free block party - and again for the race start at 5 AM on June 13th to cheer on the teams and they embark on Stage 1.

The Race to Alaska is a project of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

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