R2AK: Taking the fork in the road

Published on June 21st, 2018

(June 21, 2018; Day 5) – A Santa Cruz 27, which had been previously notable as a Craigslist ad, is proving to be quite the ride for the members of Team Wild Card as they’ve crossed the half way point of the Race to Alaska to lead the leaders toward the second and final mark of the 750 mile course.

But this California classic is surrounded by likely and unlikely characters in its quest to win the fourth edition of this Pacific Northwest classic. Likely, as the two boats on its tail are of a somewhat similar genre: an Olsen 30 and a Melges 32. Unlikely in that no monohull has ever won the R2AK.

But never say never.

Click to enlarge

These are three of the five boats that first arrived at Seymour Narrows, the other mark of the course and a notorious tidal gate that only allows transit when a boat’s direction agrees with that of the water. Their arrival synched with Mother Nature, and the door closed soon after to gift them a lead over the less fortunate.

Also among the famous five, and seeking to defend multihull honor is Ptarmigan, an F-28 that has 24 miles to catch up. PT Watercraft (Gougeon 32 catamaran), the other boat to survive the first check point, has fallen back to the pack. So much for good luck.

Embracing this time of year, when baseball rules the sporting landscape, we look toward Yogi Berra – a brilliant baseball player and manager – for strategic R2AK advice. Says Yogi, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

And that’s what the three monos did, with Wild Card taking the inside route to the east of Hunter Island while Sail Like a Girl (Melges 32) and Lagopus (Olsen 30) are buying time to the west of the island and reveling in the Queen Charlotte Sound before diving into the narrows for the Bella Bella checkpoint.

For additional details …

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Race to Alaska, now in its 4th year, began with 47 teams signing up for the adventure of a lifetime. No motor, no support, through wild frontier, navigating by sail or peddle/paddle (but at some point both) the 750 cold water miles from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska.

To save people from themselves, and possibly fulfill event insurance coverage requirements, the distance is divided into two stages. Anyone that completes the 40-mile crossing from Port Townsend to Victoria, BC can pass Go and proceed. Those that fail Stage 1 go to R2AK Jail. Their race is done.

Thirty-nine conquered the first test on June 14, of which 31 lined up on June 17 for the start of Stage 2 from the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Other than two waypoints along the way, Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, there is no official course. Race details.


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