SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

2nd Race to Alaska 2016 Announced


September 19, 2015
Saturday PM

(SitNews) Port Townsend, Washington - The details for the second Race to Alaska 2016 were revealed at an event at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and while the format of the race remains largely identical to the inaugural race, the most significant change is a challenge issued by race organizers to Larry Ellison: If the former Oracle CEO and his America’s Cup Team can simply complete the Race to Alaska onboard a boat that has been in the America’s Cup, he will earn an honorary set of R2AK steak knives, the race’s iconic second place prize.

Now in its second year, the Race to Alaska is a 750-mile boat race between Port Townsend, WA and Ketchikan, Alaska, that has few rules: no motors onboard, no prearranged support. There are no handicaps or classes for different types of vessels and the first to cross the finish line gets $10,000, the second place team gets a set of steak knives.

jpg 2nd Race to Alaska 2016 Announced

S/V Team MOB Mentality arriving in Ketchikan -- finished 2nd with 8 days, 3h, 45m in the race from Washington Alaska July 15, 2015. The first place team was Team Elsie Piddock with 5 days, 1h 55m (A World Record).
Photograph By Christopher Thompson ©2015

The idea is simple: Get a boat. Start in Port Townsend. Using only wind or muscle, make your way to Ketchikan - no engines, no support crew. At the end of 750 miles, the winner gets a $10,000 cash prize.

Stage 1- Qualifying leg from Port Townsend, WA to Victoria BC. Racers have 36 hours to do the 33 miles without assistance to qualify for the second stage to Ketchikan, regardless of weather. The first stage is pass/fail, times are not added to times in second stage.

Stage 2- Victoria to Ketchikan - 700 miles with two mandatory waypoints at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella. There are no handicaps or divisions, and winner takes all. In 2015 less than half of the boats that started finished.

In its first year the summer of 2015, only 15 of the 35 teams that entered crossed the finish line in Ketchikan. The race was started to demonstrate what can be possible without an engine, and that adventure can be had on virtually any budget. Teams finished in vessels ranging from racing trimarans, open sailboats, outrigger canoes, and a kayak. One team finished in a boat they had pulled out of the blackberry bushes just a few months before.

“Someone called this race ‘The America’s Cup for Dirtbags’, but we try to be inclusive so we wanted to invite Larry to make sure that even fancy sailors felt welcome,” said Jake Beattie, R2AK creator and Executive Director of the Northwest Maritime Center, the non-profit organization behind the race. The invitation was also an experiment. “Last year there was a lot of fear among the racers that he would show up in multi-million dollar boat and turn this good natured, grassroots thing into an arms race. But the more we thought about it, the less we were sure that an America’s Cup boat would actually make it. They sail fast but seem to break a lot.”

According to the rules of the R2AK, teams can avail themselves of resources that are available along the race route, but only if those resources are available to everyone, and nothing that has been pre-arranged. Beattie elaborated, “You can buy food, borrow tools, stay at a hotel - you can even get a foot massage if you want to - just as long as everyone else could too.” Support boats and onshore support teams are strictly prohibited. “If it was a supported race they’d win hands down, but if they are just out there on their own could they even make it to the finish line? Now that’s an interesting question.”

Beattie mailed Ellison a hand written formal invitation, and then extended the invitation via an online video “Just to up our odds that he got the message. To show him we were serious, we even offered to waive the $650 entry fee if he took us up on it.” At time of posting, Beattie hasn’t heard back from Ellison.

The adventure starts its second year June 23, 2016.

More information about the R2AK can be found at .


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

The Northwest Maritime Center

The Northwest Maritime Center is a 501c-3 non-profit whose mission is to engage people with the sea “in a spirit of adventure and discovery.” Information about their work with public schools, the Wooden Boat Festival, and other maritime education programs can be found on their website.


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