In Pursuit of a Different Challenge

Published on May 28th, 2015

The Race to Alaska (R2AK) is a unique, non-motorized, 750-mile adventure that starts in Port Townsend, Washington on June 4, and finishes in Ketchikan, Alaska. The race has 40 entrants, with the winner to earn the entire prize pool of $10,000.

Teams hail from all over the US and Canada, which include Tripp and Chris Burd of Team FreeBurd. As sailors, kiters, and windsurfers originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts, these brothers are in pursuit of a different challenge. Here’s their story…

What started as a vague idea in December has come careening into what is sure to be the wildest undertaking either of us have ever done. It started something like this:

Tripp: “Have you heard about this Race to Alaska? It seems completely nuts, but I’m kind of obsessed.”

Chris: “Hmm, sounds wet, let’s give it a whirl.”

Now here we are, one week before the start – having left jobs, moved out of apartments, and driven across the country – just to see what this thing is all about.

The adventure began in earnest mid-April. We’d already done much of the leg work and Sperry was as excited about the R2AK as we were. We’d gotten our boat and logistics nailed down, and it was time to put the pieces into motion.

On May 3rd we left Boston in our trusty Jeep (‘Hank the Tank’), picked up our ARC22 catamaran in Syracuse, NY, and started fattening up for the cold Alaskan weather with mac and cheese at Grandma’s. Neither of us had driven across the country before but, with a bag full of Grandma’s cookies and a tin of cherry pie, there was no way the drive could be anything less than enjoyable.

The time between Monday morning when we left Rochester and Wednesday afternoon when we arrived in Anacortes, WA is a bit of a blur. We had to stick to a pretty tight schedule, which unfortunately didn’t leave us with much time to explore the sights during the drive, but here are a few overly generalized observations and choice interactions from the drive:

• Upstate New York looks like Pennsylvania, looks like Ohio, looks like Indiana (although a little greener), looks like Illinois.
• Chicago is smoggy.
• Illinois has the biggest grocery stores ever.
• The folded down back of the jeep is more comfortable than the reclined passenger seat to sleep for the night.
• Bismarck, ND during rush hour means there are 10 cars on the road.
• The plains and mountains in Montana are huge and beautiful.
• Most of Washington is a desert, and the scenery in western Washington is incredible.
• Washington road signs are way more helpful than those on the east coast.

Besides a quick trip back to Boston to get the rest of our lives sorted out, we’ve spent nearly all our time at Anacortes Rigging, modifying and upgrading the boat for the R2AK. Going into the final days, we’re definitely feeling the crunch. Time to finalize all the boat systems, make sure our gear is completely sorted out, and get more time in on the boat


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