Race to Alaska has announced the final team count for the 2016 R2AK, the longest boat race of its kind in North America.
R2AK starts in Port Townsend and finishes 750 maddening miles later in Ketchikan, Alaska, according to a press release.
It’s a race that doesn’t allow boats with engines or per-arranged support – some say it’s like the Iditarod, with a chance of drowning … or being eaten by a bear … or sucked into a whirlpool. “R2AK is fielding a fleet of teams covering the sailing and rowing spectrum – from high-twitch, fast multihulls to backyard boats to a stand up paddleboard. From home-built to pro-built and custom-built,” said race boss Daniel Evans.
Last year 35 teams started, 15 finished.
At 6 a.m. on June 23, 65 teams are to be on the start line just off the Northwest Maritime Center dock in Port Townsend Bay. Forty-four of those teams attempt the full race to Alaska, while the remaining 21 teams race in the first stage to Victoria, British Columbia.
On the start line are Team Tritium Racing, a 73-foot trimaran that is 60 feet wide and sailed from Los Angeles to Hawaii in just more than five days, barely missing the world record. They are competing against 20-foot sloops built in the 1960s, custom rowing shells from France, three all-female teams, and some of the fastest racing boats the Pacific Northwest offers (think David vs. Goliath).
The route follows the inside passage, and R2AK celebrates its bold nature and history in the spirit of tradition, exploration and the lawless self-reliance it takes to succeed in such a journey.
All are invited to join the teams at the Race to Alaska Pre-Race Ruckus for food, good swill and music from 3 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22 at the Northwest Maritime Center. The public is also invited to the beach for the start gun at 6 a.m. on June 23. VIP viewing passes are available. More information at R2AK.com.
Race to Alaska is made possible through the support of Alaska Airlines, Baranof Fishing Excursions, Compass Courses, First Federal Bank, Fisheries Supply, Jefferson Healthcare, New Belgium Beer, Ocean Rodeo, Sage Marine/Spyderco, Sailor Jerry Rum, Schilling Cider, Shearwater Resort & Marina, Un-Cruise Adventures and Vigor.