R2AK: Alaska or Bust

Author:
Publish date:

If you haven’t heard of the most outrageous boat race in North America, it’s time to get with the program. It’s the Race to Alaska, a 750-mile epic up the Inside Passage from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska, with a stopover in Victoria, British Columbia.

Beset with ferocious currents, unpredictable weather, orcas and of course bears, the racecourse is a tough one. Rules for the race are simple—any kind of boat is allowed, as long as it’s powered by wind, muscle or a combination of both. The winner gets $10,000 in cash; the runner-up gets a set of steak knives.

All are welcome: this year, the 65 starters in the second running of the race included paddleboards, kayaks, a radio-controlled drone and a motley collection of sailboats the likes of which has seldom been seen in one place.

The organizers, the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, describe the race as a waterborne Iditarod. Only 15 of the 35 starters finished the inaugural race in 2015. This year, the last of the 27 finishers arrived in Ketchikan on July 23, a month after the start.

The R2AK, as it’s known, is tailor-made for multihulls. Small trimarans abound, because they’re tough, fast and you can row or—in the case of the popular Hobie Mirages—pedal them. There was also some heavier metal on the startline this time around, including Mad Dog, a bright red tweaked-up Marstrom M32 cat from San Francisco, which smoked the competition to finish the race’s 700-mile second stage in 92 hours and claim the $10,000 first prize.

Behind her was a medley of monos and multis, the latter including a number of F27s, F28s and the inevitable Hobies. One of the dropouts was Taniwha, a souped-up F32 SXRC tri skippered by ocean racing star Ryan Breymaier, who had originally intended on competing aboard Tritium, John Sangmeister’s ORMA 60 tri. The big tri was damaged on the way north from Southern California, but watch out if she makes the start next year.

If you fancy a crack at the 2017 R2AK, visit r2ak.com. And never mind the grizzlies…

MHS Fall 2016

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more