R2AK: Will monohulls sweep the podium?
Published on June 22nd, 2022
After the race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, the 6th edition of the 750 mile Race to Alaska (R2AK) began June 13 with a 40-mile “proving stage” from Port Townsend, WA to Victoria, BC. For those that survived, they started the remaining 710 miles on June 16 to Ketchikan, AK. Here’s the day six report:
The bookies over at the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce are divvying up the cash stakes everyone laid on the off chance they would be the ones to precisely predict the arrival time of first place. The total winnings are undisclosed, but we’re betting it’s not paid in candy corn, and it will make at least 1.5 dreams come true.
Also, true to form, 10,000 dollars of highly suspect bills were nailed to the wall of the Alaska Fish House last night, with the simple dare to the crew of Team Pure and Wild. “If you sailed here to get it, then get it.”
This is also the exact moment Tracker Acolytes global-wide take a quick beat and proclaim another R2AK decided and done. However, if you spent more than a thumb-scrolling minute with us, you’re reaching for the third bag of Jiffy Pop, checking the anchor or mood lighting or poorly fluffed pillow, and waiting for the stories to play out.
R2AK is like an Ayn Rand novel written by a lesser Bronte, and it’s not until page 300 of this 1400-page tome that you’ll even get to understand what the hell it’s about because maybe what is most noble about this activity isn’t the play-by-play of who does what; it’s what lives in the heart, and it’s a long beat.
At time of writing, a crew of three have claimed $10,000; quickly subtracted the cost of removing a perfectly functioning engine from their boat, shipping said engine, and reinserting it two weeks later; donating a grand of the winnings to SeaShare; then calculated time taken off from work, food, supplies, costs of returning the boat, Ketchikan expenses (let’s see carry the one, move the decimal left a couple times); and have seen prize money go from black to a deep crimson red.
Heart wins over math every time.
Over 359 Canada-goose-flying miles, 24 teams remain in play, taking part in astounding and distinctly different activities. The race for runner-up remains on, and the monohulls are best positioned to sweep the podium. This happened only in 2018, so not without precedent but with a lot of past multihull winners shaking their collective heads.
Teams Elsewhere (Soverel 33) and Fashionably Late (Dash 34) find themselves in a drag race arguably more exciting than the Melges showdown and knockdown fest that happened in the very same waters in 2019. In fact, the thrum on tightly tuned Spectra and stainless steel is echoing throughout the whole of the Canadian North Coast.
The spoiler could be Vegemite Vigilantes (Corsair 760 Sport trimaran), particularly as Fashionably Late has opted for an inside route around Duke Island that is looking a bit dookie. Hold your nose and hold on.
On June 23, the steak knife winners could be declared (or not) along with a gash of Pacific weather strong enough to hunker down in or double your wager. Either way, 24 teams row, sail, pedal, or paddle to a challenge two years in the making and one day closer to achieving it.
Race to Alaska, now in its 6th year, follows the same general rules which launched this madness in 2015. 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. Here is the 2022 plan:
Stage 1 Race start: June 13 – Port Townsend, Washington
Stage 2 Race start: June 16 – Victoria, BC
There is $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.
In 2019, there were 48 starters for Stage 1 and 37 finishers. Of those finishers, 35 took on Stage 2 of which 10 were tagged as DNF. There were no races in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.