R2AK Spawns a Wild New Race
Pacific Northwest definitions of “adventure” and “challenge” keep evolving. The latest from the creators of R2AK (Race to Alaska) is a new water-sport race, SEVENTY48. Race to Alaska, now in its fourth year of operation, is a boating adventure that some call the America’s Cup for dirtbags, and it’s certainly a challenge: participants vie to be first to reach Ketchikan, Alaska from Port Townsend, Washington using vessels with no motors and no support. R2AK has redefined adventure boat racing, drawing competitors and observers from around the globe to a race so difficult that organizers say only half the teams even finish.
The newest race takes place in Washington waters and is limited to a 70-mile course over 48 hours (hence SEVENTY48). To up the adventure and challenge, race creators have forbidden not just motors and support, participants in SEVENTY48 cannot even use wind power. The prize is a winner-takes-all pot with each team anteing up $100. The human-powered boats start in Tacoma, Washington, on June 10, and the race ends in Port Townsend, Washington, on June 13. R2AK co-founder and Race Boss Daniel Evans defined the spirit, “R2AK is more about personal challenge and triumph than winning a race. It’s about finding the limits of what you think you are capable of and pushing beyond them all. And that’s what SEVENTY48 is about, but it’s more of a two-day powerlift where finishing requires everything you have.” Racers can choose their routes beyond the two mandatory waypoints — a committee boat anchored off Point Defiance and the Port Townsend Canal.
In the spirit of R2AK, there is a party involved. Make that two parties, fore and aft.
Organizers have announced the Pre-Funk kickoff at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, featuring speakers Karl Kruger and Natalia Cohen. Kruger is the first person to complete the entire 750-mile R2AK on a stand up paddleboard. Cohen set two world records in January 2016 as part of the first all-female team and the first ever four-person boat to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean. At the finish for SEVENTY48, on June 10, the adventurous and challenging R2AK Pre-Race Ruckus party will kick off the Race to Alaska, and will be held at Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center.
Evans says the two-day “grunt” was planned with low entry cost to encourage participants from all water sports. “We’re celebrating the best in us all: courage, tenacity, and the belief we are stronger than we ever thought,” says the organizer. Spectators can follow teams on the website’s tracker, and both the Pre-Funk and Pre-Race Ruckus are open to the public and free.
“It’s hard enough that it’s a bad idea to even try,” is the sentiment that summarizes both the challenge and adventure and that is SEVENTY48. More information and your instructions for entry are at www.seventy48.com.