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Thread: R2ak 2018

  1. #1
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    R2ak 2018



    This Years Participants


    Race to Alaska Explained

    Race start: 0500 June 14th, Port Townsend, Washington
    Application deadline: April 15th

    The inside passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial, sailing craft for centuries, and after someone found gold in the Klondike the route was jammed with steamboats full of prospectors elbowing each other out of the way for the promise of fortune.

    It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush that Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.
    This isn’t for everyone

    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. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.
    R2AK is based on the hardest kind of simplicity

    You, a boat, a starting gun. $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.

    Last year 41 teams were accepted and 27 finished.
    The race has two stages:

    LINKY


    The full-course chart can be downloaded in PDF format here. And also available for purchase. Charts are 10″ by 24″ and printed on tear/water resistant paper.

    Stage 1: The Proving Ground

    Port Townsend to Victoria BC (40 miles)
    R2AK starts with an initial race across open water, two sets of shipping lanes, and an international border. The first stage is designed as a qualifier for the full race and as a stand-alone 40 mile sprint for people who just want to put their toe in.

    If you want to be a part of R2AK but don’t have the time or inclination for the full race- join for a full day of all out racing across some of the biggest water in the course. Racers continuing on will clear Canadian customs in Victoria.

    Stage one winners get to bask in the glory for a full day and a half.

    Stage 2: To the Bitter End

    Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, AK (710 miles)

    Racers start in Victoria at high noon on Sunday, June 17, and continue until they reach Ketchikan—or are tapped out by the sweep boat. Other than two waypoints along the way, Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, there is no official course. To quote the bard, You can go your own way.

    If this sounds like your brand of whiskey, R2AK is the race for you.
    Want to go all in?

    Become a sponsor and be a part of the next great adventure.
    Want to race?

    The application for 2018’s race is now open. You should do a couple things first:

    Read the Participant Qualification.
    Read the Rules.

    And we’ll close the doors to applications on April 15, 2018. Apply now.
    Last edited by Photoboy; 06-13-2018 at 10:26 PM.
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  2. #2
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    The start of leg one of the 2018 R2AK, Port Townsend to Victoria BC!

    Racing underway!


    Finish times.

    1 PT Watercraft 9:10am




    2 First Federal's Sail Like a Girl 9:51am
    3 Strait to the Pool Room 10:04am
    4 Ptarmigan 10:05am
    5 Swan Song 10:10am
    6 BlueFlash 10:13am
    7 Super Friends 10:20am
    7 Dreamcatchers 10:20am
    9 Wright Yachts 10:21am
    10 Lagopus 10:23am
    11 Wild Card 10:30am
    12 Liteboat 10:40am
    13 LOST Boys 10:42am
    14 Mknotkrazee 10:48am
    15 Teewinot 11:06am
    16 Fashionably Late 11:09am
    17 See to Sky 11:11am
    18 Keep Calm & Pedal On 11:14am















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    Dropouts and Leaders Emerge in R2AK



    Mknotcrazy has dropped out due to a restless night and rougher conditions than they expected.




    http://tracker.r2ak.com/




    Peninsula Daily News Rovides the 1st update:


    VICTORIA — The customized Gougeon 32 catamaran from Port Townsend that won the “proving ground” stage of the Race to Alaska held the lead during the start of the second leg of this year’s race Sunday.

    “Russell Brown [of PT Watercraft] as a solo sailor is doing amazingly well,” said Race Boss Daniel Evans. “If he constantly sails well, he’s going to do very well.”

    The Race to Alaska resumed at noon Sunday as watercraft of all shapes and sizes departed from Victoria on a 710-mile motorless journey to Ketchikan, Alaska.

    Brown is doing the second leg of the race on his own, but on his way to Victoria he had some help from Ashlyn Brown and Alex Spear. Last year PT Watercraft set the record for the fastest solo finish.

    They won the first stage of the race — from Port Townsend to Victoria — after arriving to Victoria at 9:10 a.m. Thursday.

    Evans described PT Watercraft as a “very curious,” boat. It’s a long catamaran, but it isn’t very wide, he said.

    “Someone called it a mutated cuttlefish,” he said. “It’s very fast. He’s flipping right along right now.”

    Strait, nearshore

    Teams Oracle and First Federal’s Sail Like a Girl were close behind in second and third place. PT Watercraft and First Federal’s Sail Like a Girl were both headed through the center of Haro Strait while Team Oracle kept to the nearshore waters.

    The start the 710-mile leg went well, Evans said, adding that spectator boats left plenty of room for racers to get out of the harbor.

    After running to their boats at the start of the race, racers followed the rules and avoided breaking any laws on their way out of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

    Last year some racers set sail while still in Victoria’s Inner Harbour while attempting to get a faster start on the race. While not against the Race to Alaska’s rules, doing so is against the law, Evans said.

    “It’s their rule, not mine, so I let them enforce it,” he said.

    As teams rounded Ogden Point on their way into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, they passed a cruise ship that was backing into the harbor, Evans said.

    “That could have been disastrous,” he said.

    The two-leg, self-supported race began in Port Townsend amid a festive sendoff at 5 a.m. Thursday.

    Thirty-six vessels arrived in Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Thursday. Three others — a monohull, kayak and rowboat — arrived Friday, race officials said.

    Thirty-six teams were expected to attempt the second stage up the inside passage to Alaska, Race Boss Daniel Evans said Saturday.

    Competitors were expecting a “suffer-fest” today because of the lack of favorable winds, Evans said.

    Sunday afternoon he said winds had not yet picked up and he didn’t expect much within the next 24 hours. He said it appeared some racers were trying to make their way toward the Strait of Georgia in hopes of catching some winds.

    He said the high-pressure system that’s currently in the area hasn’t really produced much wind.

    “Depending where they are in the Strait, they could get a nice blow or they could be rowing in the slot,” he said. “It’s hard to plan.”

    Last year, 27 of the 41 teams that entered the competition made it to Ketchikan.

    Evans said the race becomes an adventure after Campbell River, the last hint of civilization — and cellphone service — for hundreds of miles.

    The remote inside passage is known for its strong currents.

    “There’s simply nothing out there for you but yourself,” Evans said.

    “The decisions become very, very different when you know that there’s no bailout.”

    The Race to Alaska winner collects a $10,000 prize. The second-place finisher receives a set of steak knives.

    If the conditions are favorable, Evans predicted that the fastest teams would reach Ketchikan in about five days.

    One competitor, Seattle cyclist Matt Johnson of Team Take Me to the Volcano, will attempt to reach Alaska using only pedal power, Evans said.

    Johnson held second during the early afternoon Sunday before other teams caught up.
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  4. #4
    Slow and steady.

    More time to take in the beauty of the Inside Passage I suppose!

  5. #5
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    2018 Day 2: The Narrows Cometh


    image: Katrina Zoë Norbom




    Day Two of the R2AK offered the same kind of dull excitement as the first. Teams were still dealing with the fat man of a high-pressure system that was squashing the Strait of Georgia under its sweaty mass. Teams sailed, stalled, rowed, pedaled, advanced, and retreated on the tides. Most faired well enough, but at least one team spent four hours sailing, rowing, pedaling, eeking every wind shift only to go sideways four miles. Six ferries passed and waved while they were holed up in what felt like their own personal wind hole. Day Two turned into a game of playing every shift, staying alert in the sunbaked lethargy that comes on the sweaty underside of a high-pressure system. It’s getting sticky down here, the blisters are growing, and from the last to the first, teams wrung out every drop of wind in a high stakes, sweaty, slow play to stay off the oars for as many minutes as possible.

    At the tail end of the fleet’s dog day, Team Dock Rat looks to have finally gotten a wind that will let him make progress in the right direction. Since Sunday’s start, Team Dock Rat has been working like mad to get out of the harbor, buck the first tide, and make any progress north. Jim’s alone, sailing his house (his Haida 26 is a stoutly built boat/home), and in the flat calm scorcher of the first two days of the race, human power option is his dink—he’s literally towing his house with a rowboat. A late afternoon system has finally freed him from near Victoria orbit, and he’s starting to make miles in the right direction… which is a good thing since he already shipped his outboard to Ketchikan.










    As the sun doused itself into the race’s western horizon, Team PT Watercraft was sailing into the literal and proverbial sunset a few flat, calm miles ahead of First Federal’s Team Sail Like a Girl. For these two teams in the race’s hard-fought, slowly moving leading edge, you’d be hard-pressed to find two more dissimilar teams vying for the top spot. Both talented, riding high-twitch boats that carry the hopes of their niche followers, but other than their recent “I could win this thing…” realization (and our realization on the final edit that this west coast race is being led by two designs birthed from the midwest) these teams would be hard pressed to find more different ways to make a run at the money.

    Team PT Watercraft is running wild and solo on a trailerable catamaran that 40 years after construction, still looks like the sailing manifestation of future promised at the ‘69 world’s fair; flying cars, robot maids, tail fins on Cadillacs—his boat looks like it sailed out of the Jetsons. The Gougeon 32 was one of Jan Gougeon’s designs, a culmination of the most boat you could pack onto a road-legal trailer. Narrow for its length at 8’, the stability comes from water ballast that can be scooped in and drained out of the hulls as it tacks, adding 600 pounds of water weight to the high side whenever it needs it, or keeping it light when the conditions merit. The solitary crew member, Russell Brown, is one of those sailors whose ability seems to have taken hold at near cellular levels. He wanted to run solo because he knows what good looks like, and didn’t want to spend 750 miles correcting and/or being silently resentful of the less than perfect of whoever came along. When we saw him in conditions flat enough to cause self-doubt in plate glass, Russell was eeking out 4 knots, sailing and occasionally pedaling into the dusk, his stern wake the only ripple on the water. He was smiling despite the broadside of cameras, drones, and questions coming from the media boat. “You’re wasting a lot of fuel and film, guys.” As much as he liked sailing well, there’s a growing part of him considering heading in the wrong direction until someone else can absorb the attention of the frontrunner. He just wants to sail.

    A squinted gaze to the south and the First Federal logo was just visible on the black rig of Team Sail Like a Girl. Different rig, different boat, whole different program. Russell is one dude on a couple of hulls; First Federal’s Team Sail Like A Girl is six women on one. Sailing for a mission, and sponsored to near NASCAR proportions, their Melges 32 retains water ballast as well, but inside the skins of humans that scurry from the low to the high side on every tack. Even their fun is different. Russell was having a blast, sailing self-contented and drinking enough coffee to fuel his compulsion. Team Sail Like a Girl was polishing off their post salmon dinner with a signature cocktail that includes some proprietary proportion of whiskey and Swedish Fish. It was simultaneously an inside joke, the sign of a gelling crew, and our cue to politely leave before we had to try it. Light, quiet, and alone, or together with whiskey. Two ways to crack the same code that, at the moment, seems to be in the ballpark of equity.




    Day broke on a southerly breeze that snuck in under cover of darkness and rolled north through the fleet, bringing with it the chase pack of teams, and a fresh relevance on everything we wrote the night before. As day dawns on Day 3, First Federal’s Team Sail Like A Girl is still in a race for first, but now is fending off Team Ptarmigan’s Colorado-style seamanship, Teams Lagopus and Wild Card covering each other’s tacks half a horizon behind, and another six teams on the move and praising their spinnakers and the holy whoever a little farther back.

    After a three-day row show, the race is back, downshifting from the speed of sunburn to fast enough to warrant its name. Teams have popped the chutes, crossed their hearts, and crossed their fingers, setting their sites on that next team to windward, and laying a course for Seymour Narrows, the gatekeeper to R2AK’s back 9.

    Seymour Narrows is a fabled tidal river that flows with 14 knots of authority. When the tide goes out, it’s the escalator to Johnstone Strait and the next level wilderness beyond. On the flood, Seymour is the bouncer that sends you to the back of the line, makes you hang out in Comox while everyone in front of you gets six hours farther ahead, everyone behind you gets six hours to catch up, and you get a chance to think about your choices. No fighting it; even the 20,000-horsepower engines that cruise ships wrap themselves around take a number and wait.

    Today, the water runs north in the Narrows until 1600 and will separate the fleet into those charging for the prize and teams who are forced to hang out in the Comox, tapping their feet and looking at their watches to get on the next northbound tidal train. There are hours to go, but if conditions hold, it seems like there could be ten teams that make it in before the drawbridge goes up. This is the race to the race.



    http://tracker.r2ak.com/
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    2018 Day 3: Fresh race, stale breeze, ketchup soup

    2018 Day 3: Fresh race, stale breeze, ketchup soup


    images:Katrina Zoë Norbom


    Did you know there is such a thing as competitive Tai Chi? That thing you did in college and/or during yard time at the Senior Center, that slow-mo martial art that is scientifically proven to be three times more likely to be in a heart medication commercial than your day to day—they’ve got competitions for that. We’ve got no idea how that actually works, but based on projected ticket sales and its non-presence in our social media feed, we’ve got to think it’s more than a lot like the thrill of placing bets on which paint dries fastest, the January molasses invitational, and so much of the so far in this year’s R2AK. It’s been great racing, but damn if a three-day stretch of rowing/pedaling isn’t at least a little like seeing which G-ma from the B wing can thug up and “make hands like clouds” slower and better than the rest of them. It’s for sure a race, but everyone from the racer’s blisters to the rest of us would love it if the wind could fill the eff in and the edge could give the rest of the seat the day off for a change.

    To be fair, the wind hasn’t been absent as much as it’s phoning it in, giving racers and fans alike the deadbeat-dad bare minimum; gone for days and then showing up for makeup sex and an out-of-nowhere hero run to R2AK Disneyland. From a glassed-off, flat-calm non-response since the race started, to the 15-knot spinnaker run that ushered the trailing fleet within striking distance of the leaders, the wind made a conjugal visit to the front half of the fleet, rising from behind and consummating a downwind run that started low and lifted the mid-fleet hopeful from nowhere near to a ‘don’t stop, don’t stop, almost…there’ romp into the gap at Seymour Narrows that peaked to near ‘Hallelujah’ right around noon. Sky rockets in flight… all that. The top five teams made it through the gate on the first tide and are already punching into the post-Johnstone, free-range reality.

    Five teams made it through on the first tide through Seymour—a day later and four teams more than any years past. R2AK has tended to have the runaway-train lead team that uses the Narrows like a blocking fullback to pile on the miles while the trailing teams spend a tide or two picking grass out of their facemask. This year the one and two teams of the Seymour moment (First Federal’s Team Sail Like A Girl and Team Ptarmigan) swapped leads twice on the approach, with three more nipping at their heels before the water went from favorable to Sisyphus. This year might be slower, but it’s race-ier by far.




    The First Federales on Team Sail Like a Girl worked a pedal plus sail past Seymour’s entrance and into the infinite wilderness beyond. They were pedaling, popping the chute, striking it, setting it again, working the fickle wind and rising strength of the tidal river that can take you from sailing downwind to no apparent wind and an accidental jibe in no time flat. The 5 knots of wind that filled their spinnaker on the approach were still there but evaporated in effect once the current built to 4, then 5, then 6 knots in the same direction within 30 minutes of theoretical slack.

    Once your boat gets moving on a current that is in the same direction and anywhere near the speed of the actual wind, the apparent wind that drives your sail drops to zero, and your sails don’t know what to do other than go limp. The ladies rocked it right and “motor” sailed one tack in front of, and then behind, and then ahead again of the hard-charging, father/daughter-plus-a-couple, trimaran team of Team Ptarmigan. A few minutes later PT Watercraft sailed the Narrows flawlessly enough to outpace them both before calling it a day. Next through was the Olsen-sailing Canucks of Team Lagopus, smiling as they rowed and flew the chute as the current raced the dying afternoon wind. Less than an hour behind the leader was the come-from-behind and appropriately named Team Wild Card, sailing the hell out of the SC-27 they bought off of Craigslist a few months back.

    All of the teams did, but Team Wild Card especially earned their trip through the Narrows. On the second full night of the R2AK, there were a dozen teams back that decided to double down on a hunch that there’d be wind on the west side of Texada—a winger move that added miles on the bet they could find wind in the valley and do better than everyone else suffering the calms in the central part of the Strait of Georgia. Talking to people who know better, they would be right as often as wrong on that wager, but this time the coin landed the right way, and Team Wild Card shot from a footnote in the race to an honest-to-god contender for the whole thing. At the time of writing, Team Wild Card slept for a tidal cycle, then woke up to close and then outpace and tack on five miles between them and Team Sail Like A Girl’s all-night bid to hang on to pole position in the oddly light airs of Johnstone Strait. Team PT Watercraft is still sleeping between the hulls of the G32, but if today is anything like yesterday, Russell’s “Hare, but smarter”/“sail like hell, then sleep” solo-sailor strategy will have him catching up to the leaders by 2 pm or so, when tide and fatigue outpace his coffee consumption, and he has to pull over to deal with either/all of those issues. (Yesterday was a two-thermos day, the day before, three.)

    Looking astern, the next wave of seven teams that caught the overnight current train through Seymour is led by the teenaged crew of Team BlueFlash who took a nap, took the Narrows, and settled in to nap number two just an island over from PT Watercraft.




    Tracker

    The rest of the fleet is plugging along. Another seven are poised to punch through the narrows on the morning tide. Farther back the teams are thinning as the race’s sweaty grind starts to take its toll on the psyche, gear, and the repetitive motion body parts:

    Psyche: Team Mknotkrazee retired after concluding what everyone else already knew: that the best way to sail a Nacra Inter 20 to Alaska is theoretically.

    Gear: Team TRAK Kayaks bounced off of a rock in False Narrows and put a hole in the fabric of his folding kayak. Sitting in a slowly growing puddle of water he called TRAK Customer Service who told him to just bring it into his nearest dealership—which just so happenened to be two miles away at Qualicum Beach. Repair affected and Team TRAK is back with the pack of human-powered boats, and a few miles back from Team Torrent… who is only a couple of hours behind the pace of Karl Kruger’s record-setting SUP time in 2017.




    Body parts: There was a disappointed and sympathetic sigh at Race Command when Matt Johnson called in to let us know that tendon issues in his knee were forcing an early exit for Team Take Me to the Volcano at Nanaimo. Matt has been in every R2AK, twice in successful bids for Stage 1, and now twice partway to Ketchikan. Judgment called to call it a day before things got out of hand. Last time it was his boat; this time it was his knee. “I didn’t have time to train the way I wanted. I made a choice to rebuild the boat, and I just ran out of time.” The boat was killer. A low-profile outriggered capsule that surrounded his pro-cyclist leg engine, watching him motor along was more than a little unsettling; his legs and body hidden in the hull, the propeller was spun unseen under the water; to the observer the boat moved with absolutely no visual clue as to why. Matt could hit speeds over seven, led the fleet for the first 24 hours, and tendon issues mean that his Ketchikan glory is at least a year away.



    Racing to Alaska Day 3 Thoughts: We hit our first log last night. Well, it was really a log, more like a tree. Not one of those nice trees that you have in your front lawn, but more like a big floating 50ft behemoth. Other than that the crew is well, slowly but surely getting there...patiently waiting for some good old breeze so that we may sail to Alaska and not row repost @william_blouin_comeau
    .




    Closing out the day was Team Dock Rat who, from the looks of the photo, was close to home and was tired of using his dinghy to get to shore. After 48 fatigued hours of pulling his house with a rowboat, Jim’s boat fetched up and went dry on a sandy bit on the west side of San Juan Island. Jim’s Haida 26 will shrug it off and float again; he sounded in good spirits, but how could you not be weighing the cost of shipping your motor back from Alaska with the fact that after two days you’re aground, a shy 20 miles into the race, and a short cab ride from home base. We’re as stubborn as the next guy, but throw in a muffin, and we know which way we’d fall on that decision.

    Three days in and the race for the podium is as fresh as it was when we hit the go button on Sunday; four teams (three monohulls!) are within sight of the lead as they exit the bizarrely benign Johnstone Strait into the bizarrely benign Queen Charlotte Sound. A year ago it blew 50 when the pack went through Johnstone; today it’s 5-10 with a chance of sunburn. It’s like we blew our wind budget on the hammer-down conditions of the last three years, and we have to eat ketchup soup and leftovers until the check clears at the end of the month. Time to tighten our belts, set the drifter, and row to the next puff.

    More tomorrow, R2AK out.

    photo credit: Katrina Zoë Norbom
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    Thursday 6/21 Tracker




    Team HOA 5.2 giving us a view of his bedroom last night.




    Just happened. B4B2 has broken their rudder and are rowing with very little steering in 20 knots of wind and 2-3 foot seas. They are 2 miles NE of Nanaimo looking for a soft spot to land. Everything is under control, but they are not happy. And yes, coast guard knows what's going on
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