When I asked Race Director Jake Beattie about his thoughts for the first leg of the R2AK Race, his response was an emphatic, relieved “They’re All Safe.” All things considered, looking at the disparate collection of boats at Victoria’s Inner Harbour, that was saying a lot.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca kicked up its standard 20-knot westerly on June 4, as Bruce Hedrick predicted, and the multihulls had their day. First in was the Crowther 38 Team Golden Oldies, but only after engaging their reputedly professional rowers on the custom rowing arrangements on the stern. Oldies caught and passed the catamaran Team Freeburd in the short stretch from the harbor mouth to the finish at the dock in front of the Empress.
The trimarans put in a strong showing with Team Elsie Paddock an early finisher.
Team Wild and Pure found that the lightweight 24′ proa wasn’t at its best in the classic Straits conditions. Stay tuned for light winds and flat water. They too passed boats from the harbor entrance to the docks with their pedal-drive unit.
Gear was still draped all over the boats drying out, and sailors were busily fixing and modifying in preparations for the restart on Sunday, the real race, the race to Ketchikan.
Beattie watched the first leg from a plane. With the eagerness he’s had through the whole development of the race, Beattie said “Can you believe it! Someone who was just excited about the race offered to fly me around!”
Beattie also noted the mixed blessing of the trackers. “When they’re all working, it’s great. When some go off-line people automatically think it’s bad news when in fact it’s just a tracker malfunctioning.”
When the real race many questions will be answered. Can the sailboats keep up in dead calm? Can the rowers keep up when the wind blows? If it gets gnarly, will anybody get into serious trouble? Who will pick up the $10K first prize and who will win the set of steak knives. Stay tuned, it should be fun!