Putting the band together again for R2AK

Published on April 8th, 2023

The entries are being revealed for the 2023 Race to Alaska (R2AK) which gets underway June 5 for the 750-mile course from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK. This will be the 7th edition, with people still eager to embrace the hardship and misery that definitely awaits.

Among the entrants is Team Tres Equis on a 29-foot Corsair 880 Sport trimaran, with Chad Wilson, Ken Wolfe, and Bill Hardesty rekindling memories from when they were college sailing teammates at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (aka Kings Point):

An insurance lawyer, a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, and someone who is probably a dentist walk into the Race to Alaska. Honestly, we don’t know what happens next. We stopped listening to our own joke a while ago. There’s some punchline there somewhere, but given the set up, we’re pretty sure that at least one of them is going to be named Chad.

Stay with us: theoretically, if an insurance lawyer does a 750-mile adventure race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, should the race host or his insurance company be concerned? Again, hypothetical here, if you had the 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year on your boat, would you have them captain the boat, or would you choose the safety-first insurance lawyer to be the captain?

What if—just saying—the insurance lawyer, the Yachtsman of the Year, and some other guy had all served in the merchant marine as deck and engine officers, sailed ships around the world, and put in time in the U.S. Naval Reserve as officers assigned to the logistics fleet?

And—play along with us here—they bought a brand new boat and packed it full of their trophies, medallions, and “You Qualified for the Olympics!” certificates and maybe did Race to Alaska, an adventure race that may or may not be filled with bears?

We’re about to find out.

We sat down with Chad T. Wilson, head legal counsel and captain of Team Tres Equis over a tureen of creamed corn and two oversized spoons to talk about accidental death and dismemberment, world championships, and whether or not Bill’s decision to R2AK is more worthy of the ‘Casio Yachtsman of the Year’ than what he’s currently sporting.

What are the necessary components of a good adventure?
Unfamiliar territory, unplugged, heightened level of risk, challenging, coffee.

What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?
Passports don’t come loaded with visas.

What’s your favorite kind of bracket?
Box bracket.

What’s your claim to fame?
Three talented kids who fall in the ‘good people’ category; 3-time Olympic Team Trials qualifier in sailing.

It’s drizzling, freezing cold, and you’ve missed the tide. The cabin is leaky and the stove won’t light. How do you keep the good vibes going?

Uplifting music, bad music, recorded sounds of whales, repetitive counting.

Forget the $10k or the steak knives. What does success look like for you and your team?
Three crew start, 3 crew FINISH and get home safely; no insurance claims [R2AK HQ: Classic lawyer talk].

Blank space, baby. Share some things:
I am looking forward to R2AK with two guys I haven’t sailed with since Kings Point in 1997. I am proud that Bill said yes to R2AK and Ken’s wife said yes to R2AK for Ken.


We’re not going to bother putting a tracker on these fellas. Not because they’ll be fast (though that’s likely), but because you’ll be able to locate them easily by the clanging of all the trophies they’re carrying with them.

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The 7th edition of the Race to Alaska in 2023 will follow 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 2023 plan:

Stage 1 Race start: June 5 – Port Townsend, Washington
Stage 2 Race start: June 8 – Victoria, BC

While the Stage 1 course is simple enough, the route to Ketchikan is less so. Other than a waypoint at Bella Bella, there is no official course. Whereas previous races mandated an inside passage of Vancouver Island, the gloves came off in 2022. Previously, the course mandated the inshore passage but for teams that could prove their seaworthiness, they now had the option of the western route.

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.

There were no races in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. In 2022, there were 45 starters for Stage 1 and 34 finishers. Of those finishers, 32 took on Stage 2 of which 19 made it to Ketchikan.

Source: R2AK

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