Race to Alaska, now in its 5th year, just closed its registration and 46 teams will be at the start line."This is when we start looking at our field on racers for who we think might win and who is going to make a really good story." says Race Boss Daniel Evans. "The stories and achievements are going to be tremendous." Daniel points out that sixteen of the teams are under twenty feet with the smallest coming in at fourteen feet. The size of the boat alone will create exciting times for those teams.
The bio list does seem to be layered with adventure-seeking racers. Alex de Sain of Team Extremely Insain has finished both the world's longest river and inland water races for a stand-up paddleboard. He hopes to cap his resume with what now has been deemed the longest open water race for a SUP in the world. (Not our words). He is one of two SUP racers hoping to do what has only been done once, finish the R2AK on a stand-up paddleboard.
In fact, 6 teams in total are attempting to finish the race on the strength of arms and backs alone; human power only and half of them are in traditional skiffs, like the kind you row to the bar when you are at anchor, except they're rowing to a bar in Ketchikan. Following in the footsteps of that tradition, Stanford of Team Ziska is just going to row the house to the bar. In this instance, that means racing a 52' gaff-rigged wooden sailboat that weighs around 12 tons.
The race is not without its speed, however. We have a custom racing trimaran out of New Zealand with Team Pear Shaped Racing who is looking for that 1st place 10K nailed to a tree. A couple of high octane racing teams—Team Educated Guess and Team Shut Up and Drive—will be pushing stock monohulls with all the skill a crew can muster. And this year's fast must mention Team Angry Beaver – Skiff Sailing Foundation. Their sailing resume looks like a list of every sailing race you can think of with placements like 1st, 5th, 3rd next to each one on the list. "Angry Beaver was a very late entry," says Daniel, "but they have the knowledge, skill and boat to defy known physics and rip up the course." They are sailing a monohull called a Schock 40 that has things like foiling rudders on both ends and a canting ballast keel; it's like an alien space-boat that goes really, really fast. In fact, this year's boat sizes range from 14 feet to 52, proving there are more ways than one to beat this challenge."
There is no end to the stories this year, and the tracker is a good place to start. The tracker is a free-to-view map that allows online viewers to follow each team and even connects viewers to teams' social media pages.
Daniel and the media film crew will follow the race on a variety of powerboats recording and interviewing the teams as they find their own way to Ketchikan. "We kind of make it up as we go," said Zach Carver, the creative mind behind most of R2AKs videos. "We go where we have to to get the shots and stay up editing and cutting while the boat moves to the next location. It's a kind of 24 hours a day operation. And it's during that time that we start to see the stories of the race grow and become tangible." All of the video clips, daily updates, and the tracker can be found online.
Like with the question of who will win, it's anybody's guess what stories will emerge from the brave fleet of racers as they move northward. "One thing is for sure," says the Race Boss. "As these teams sail into the forgotten reaches of our coastal wilderness, the stories that do come out will be incredible."
June 2, 12-8 PM,
Live Music Uncle Funk & the Dope 6: 6 PM
Pope Marine Park, Port Townsend,WA
June 2, 7 PM,
SEVENTY48 Finish and Awards
Pope Marine Park, Port Townsend,WA
Stage 1 Start
June 3, 5 AM,
Northwest Maritime Center Dock, Port Townsend,WA
Stage 2 Start
June 6, 12 PM
Victoria Harbor, BC
Follow the tracker: tracker.r2ak.com (tracker will not be available until race start).