Race to Alaska: Going beyond the norm

Published on December 6th, 2022

The year was 2014, and sailboat racing was killing itself slowly. More and more races, going around the same windward-leeward course. Boat designs were getting harder to sail, and the investment to sail them was increasing. The sport was evolving toward extinction.

And then came the announcement for the Race to Alaska, proposing to be North America’s longest human and wind powered race. A 750 mile course on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear.

Other than no engines permitted, it was anybody’s guess what best to face ferocious squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on god’s green earth.

R2AK was based on the hardest kind of simplicity. Just you, a boat, a starting gun, and $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second, and Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. It was a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net.

Sail GP

The 2015 race far exceeded expectations, and was annually followed through 2019 before the pandemic derailed the race in 2020 and 2021, with the race returning again in 2022.

Beyond the concept’s unbridled adventure, race organizers brilliantly brought it to life through spirited reporting and imagery. Not only did they have an un-regatta format that people were desiring, they delivered the vibe to a wanting audience. At Scuttlebutt, we adored it all.

Yet despite our fan status, and publishing over 100 stories on the event, being there is significantly different. Thankfully, that is now possible too.

Created by R2AK Film Boss Zach Carver and his team of filmmakers, The Race to Alaska movie is a visceral film showcasing the camaraderie of the racers and the competition of the race. From the quirky to the sublime, from Olympic athletes to high schoolers, the characters in this film show that there’s no one way to do the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

Using all the footage from the first five races, both from the race media team and competitors, the movie perfectly captures the exciting and adventurous spirit of R2AK. It is not about winning, it’s about living, and doing it on the water reminds us what living is like.

Pay the nominal fee to become immersed in the experience: https://r2akthemovie.com/

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