Stir that spirit of adventure and get on board for the fourth annual Race to Alaska, better known as the R2AK. April 15 is the deadline for this year’s entries.
For the uninitiated, R2AK is not like any other race. Here are the “bear” basics: start is at 0500 on June 14, 2018 at Port Townsend, WA. Finish line is Ketchikan, AK, 750 miles away. No motors, no support. First prize is $10,000. Second prize
is a set of steak knives. The longest human or wind-powered race in North America, R2AK is held “in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush.”
According to non-profit Northwest Maritime School that organizes the event, “It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.”
Are you, too, a R2AK bear? Choose a vessel; there are no divisions and no handicap system. Kayak, paddleboard, sail, pedal, or oar if you have the skills and can leave a wake without a motor; the adventure of a lifetime awaits.
At the time of this writing, there are 34 teams registered for 2018, not including Team Wright Yachts that has Northwest Yachting magazine’s managing editor, Norris Comer, aboard a Corsair 970 Cruze currently under construction in Vietnam. Fans can root for Team Sail Like A Girl, a Bainbridge Island, Washington crew of nine women aboard a Melges 32 taking on the R2AK for the first time. Get behind Team Oaracle (Ian Graeme and Janice Mason) aboard a Merry Sea 2 rowing wherry. Ian is a three-year veteran of R2AK; Janice has competed twice. Both have completed the journey by sailing and by rowing.
The race isn’t just about sails or oars or paddles. Solo pedal-power boat/bicycle racer Matt Johnson on his Willoughby V16 takes on his fourth R2AK as Team Take Me To The Volcano. New entries will be listed as they register, so check back to stay informed. Check out the updated gallery of boats and crews at r2ak.com where first-timers and veterans alike show off their varied vessels and augmented grit.
No boat? Check out the crew list to find your lucky team. Want to stay dry but feel the power? Join fans and participants at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend on June 13 for the R2AK Ruckus party from 1500 to 2000 hours. The pre-race party is rumored to offer “all the spirit of the R2AK, 10% of the danger.” Once the race is underway, armchair crews can track racers to the finish at tracker.r2ak.com. Other events and resources are listed at the official race website as well.