Race to Alaska Explained
Published on September 10th, 2017
We don’t know if the Race to Alaska was one of those ideas that comes amid drinks at the bar, but after three editions, everyone is very sober now. Heck, they are even planning for another go. Here are the details for the 2018 edition:
Race start: 0500 June 14th in Port Townsend, Washington
Application deadline: April 15th.
The inside passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial, sailing craft for centuries, and after someone found gold in the Klondike the route was jammed with steamboats full of prospectors elbowing each other out of the way for the promise of fortune.
It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush that Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.
This isn’t for everyone.
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.
R2AK is based on the hardest kind of simplicity.
You, a boat, a starting gun. $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter.
Last year 41 teams were accepted and 27 finished.
The race has two stages:
Stage 1: The Proving Ground – Port Townsend, WA to Victoria BC (40 miles)
R2AK starts with an initial race across open water, two sets of shipping lanes, and an international border. The first stage is designed as a qualifier for the full race and as a stand-alone 40 mile sprint for people who just want to put their toe in.
If you want to be a part of R2AK but don’t have the time or inclination for the full race- join for a full day of all out racing across some of the biggest water in the course. Racers continuing on will clear Canadian customs in Victoria.
Stage one winners get to bask in the glory for a full day and a half.
Stage 2: To the Bitter End – Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, AK (710 miles)
Racers start in Victoria at high noon on Sunday, June 17, and continue until they reach Ketchikan—or are tapped out by the sweep boat. Other than two waypoints along the way, Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, there is no official course. To quote the bard, You can go your own way.
If this sounds like your brand of whiskey, R2AK is the race for you.