“It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a Grizzly Bear.” That is how the “Lead Conspirator for the Race to Alaska,” Jake Beattie is describing his brand-new, 750 mile endurance boat race from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK. The winner will claim a $10,000 bounty and second place… a set of steak knives—that’s right, steak knives. Everyone else who completes the Inside Passage to Alaska will be rewarded with a t-shirt at the finish.
While most of the ocean-going craft are sailboats, there are two sea-worthy rowing craft, one kayaker, and one pimped out stand up paddleboard setup. Yes, a stand up paddleboard will attempt the 750 mile trip.
The rules are simple: The craft must either be wind-powered or human powered and outside support is not allowed.
The race begins at Port Towsend, WA, where racers will compete in a qualifying 40-mile sprint to Victoria, BC. If competitors finish the initial leg within 36 hours, they automatically qualify for the remainder of the race. After a full day and a half of rest in Victoria, teams will set out on the journey from Victoria to Ketchikan, which amounts to 710 miles of maritime travel. There are two waypoints, one at Seymour Narrows and another at Bella Bella. Excluding these two waypoints, there is no official course.
Many of the participants will be using the race to raise awareness for charities and causes, including everything from protecting British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest to providing potable water for a Navajo reservation.
If they win, Team Wild and Free, which includes world-renowned racers Joe Bersch and Dalton Bergan, plan on donating their entire winnings to the Bainbridge Island Charity, SeaShare, which provides seafood to food banks across the country.
That is… if they win.
However, along the way Team Wild and Free will be raising money independently for SeaShare as well as Blue H20, which provides safe drinking water to communities located in remote places. Their current project is a Navajo reservation.
According to Beattie, the race is going to be a “tortoise vs. the hare bet,” where sailboats will be favored. However, June winds can be stagnant along the British Columbia Coastline and if those are the conditions, human-powered means may prevail. Hence, slow and steady could win the race. Among those taking the slow and steady pace, is one rowing team that includes the world record holder for pull-ups in a day, so don’t count out the tortoise just yet.
For more information on the race, please visit: r2ak.com
For More Information on Donating to Team Wild and Free, please visit: