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R2AK’s Epic Conclusion

by Norris Comer

Team Mad Dog - Photo by Jared Scott/R2AKThe 750-mile, unsupplied, engineless Race to Alaska (R2AK) runs from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska, is over, but the legends made on the waters of the Inside Passage will live on. Winning team MAD Dog Racing smashed the previous record by nearly a day and a half with the time of three days, 20 hours, and 13 minutes, finishing June 30. MAD Dog Racing, which comprised of a crew of three aboard a M32 high-performance catamaran, reportedly topped out at speeds of 25 knots. The team, Randy Miller, Ian Andrews, and Colin Dunphy, earned the grand price of $10,000 that was nailed to a piece of firewood and well-earned bragging rights that will last a lifetime.

Miller is quoted as saying, in an official R2AK press release, that “The M32 is a fast boat, but it took all three of us to sustain speeds and not be in danger. This is a wild coast and self-rescue is really the only option out here.” To make matters more extreme, the M32 is a cabinless craft. The MAD Dog Racing team bid on finishing fast and early, and they’re fortunate they didn’t have to bear a northerly slog like other teams.

The 2016 R2AK was the second iteration of the unconventional race that challenges any and all vessels, from performance multihulls to a stand-up paddleboarder, to push themselves up the Inside Passage without engines or resupply drops or support. Forty-four crews stepped up to the plate this year for the whole distance, including paddleboarder Karl Kruger of team Heart of Gold who showed superhuman resolve but did not finish. Rowers, including all-woman teams and a solo Frenchman, and even an automated sailing drone participated in this one-of-a-kind event that grabs our attention and doesn’t let go. The second-place prize is a set of steak knives, and this year that honor was awarded to team Skiff Foundation Jungle Kitty with an eight-person crew on a carbon fiber Fox 44 sloop. We can only imagine the smug smiles on their faces when they use the knives at the next summer BBQ. All finishers are considered “winners” and receive a free beer and a handshake after the epic journey is completed.

More information about this year’s race, and next, is available at r2ak.com. Who knows what year three has in store? We at Northwest Yachting can hardly wait.

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