The Captivating Race to Alaska (R2AK) - Sail Magazine

The Captivating Race to Alaska (R2AK)

Few races have captured our imagination here at SAIL as much as the recently announced Race to Alaska (R2AK), which kicks off on June 4 in Port Townsend, Washington, and takes competitors to Ketchikan, Alaska, a distance of 750 miles, with a one-day pit stop in Victoria, British Columbia.
Author:
Publish date:
 The shape of speed? Organizers expect a variety of boat types to take the challenge

The shape of speed? Organizers expect a variety of boat types to take the challenge

Few races have captured our imagination here at SAIL as much as the recently announced Race to Alaska (R2AK), which kicks off on June 4 in Port Townsend, Washington, and takes competitors to Ketchikan, Alaska, a distance of 750 miles, with a one-day pit stop in Victoria, British Columbia. The R2AK is open to any vessel that doesn’t carry auxiliary power or rely on a shore-based support team. Otherwise, racers can bring unlimited crew, provided each person completes the entire course. The only other major requirement is that all entrants must finish before the “sweep boat” arrives in Ketchikan. The event is being run—and insured—by the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend and was the brainchild of Jake Beattie, the center’s executive director. We recently caught up with Beattie to learn more.

 The race’s executive director, Jake Beattie

The race’s executive director, Jake Beattie

SAIL: What was the inspiration for the R2AK? 

Jake Beattie: Like all good ideas, it happened over a beer, at the 2013 Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival. There’s a group of “go small, go now and go big” sailors here, and we were talking about how we could propel the thing we love into the greater conscious. Ideas were pitched, but I walked away thinking that there wasn’t enough sizzle. So with Josh Colvin and Collin Angus, we decided to “X-Prize it”: Nail $10,000 to a tree and see who gets it. We want to keep it as simple and wild as possible. We tried to stay true to this principle, and we have a committed board at the Northwest Maritime Center.

SAIL: What do you think are the biggest risks for the racers?

map-alaska-2_0

JB: Over-confidence, fatigue and cold water. There’s shipping traffic, but it’s visible, and you can use VHF. I think that the biggest risk is for someone who’s unfamiliar with big tides and cold water. I worry a lot about the amount of driftwood…and there are a lot of bears on the beaches. There’s a lot more “damn the torpedoes” in the race than yacht-club energy. There are a lot of unknowns—that’s the riddle.

SAIL: What about the biggest challenges?

JB: I think that fatigue will be the biggest factor. It’s a long enough race that it’s not safe to gut it out. In my small-boat adventures, I’ve learned that fate, irony and hubris are what do the most damage.

SAIL: What percentage of the starters do you expect to see finish?

JB: I’m excited to monitor the people who opt-out after Victoria, and to also see who opts in for the second leg after completing Leg 1. One of the beautiful things about the course is that there are a lot of chances to opt out in the first 300 miles, from Port Townsend to Port Hardy. That helps me to not freak out so much!

Images courtesy of R2AK/Jake Beattie

Related

SouthernOcean

The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in ...read more

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozens of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more