A 750-Mile Sufferfest

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Team North to Alaska raced in a handmade, 25-foot sharpie named Johnny Horton.

Team North to Alaska raced in a handmade, 25-foot sharpie named Johnny Horton.

The Race to Alaska (R2AK) is an endurance race that speaks to those craving adventures. The rules are simple: be self-reliant; compete in a vessel without an engine; and make it all the way from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska.

In the past, racers in the R2AK have competed in craft such as paddleboards, kayaks, rowboats and monohull and multihull sailboats. Besides being North America’s longest human- and wind-powered race, the obstacles R2AK racers encounter are also unique. There are killer whales, swift tidal currents, storm squalls and the dangers of being run down by a freighter or confronting bears.

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Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend hosts the race. The next installment of the R2AK is set to start on June 14, 2018.

Among the competitors in this year’s R2AK was a team of four high school friends and one very patient father, who took on the challenge together aboard a 25-foot, home-built boat. You can read the story about this unique team in Soundings’ September 2017 issue. 

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