Team members: Henry Veitenhans, Joseph Veitenhans, Greg Veitenhans, Erik Pokorny, Tommy Gray, Malachi Church
Hometown: Port Townsend, Washington, USA
Race vessel: Maryland Fishing Sharpie
Human propulsion: Oars
Connect: facebook, instagram, website
R2AK cred: Gutted out a 6 oars + 5 teenager = 10 day finish in 2017
We’re five races deep into this thing, but there are teams that stand out for their sheer force of story and talent. The team that set the record? Sure. That guy who finished on the paddle board? Of course. The kid who convinced his high school and parents that building then racing a boat 2AK should be a condition of his graduation? Darn tootin.
Team North2Alaska’s 2017 R2AK campaign had it all. Grit, solid boat skills, and the kind of confidence that comes from not knowing enough to be skeptical or cautious. We don’t know what’s more impressive: conning your parents and school administrators to make the R2AK a graduation requirement, or the fact that Henry and his dad Greg built a boat and then R2AK’d all the way with 3 other teenagers and a friend who turned 21 on the finish line (the results of that part were, well, predictable).
Henry and Greg welded up their 25’ sharpie in their net shed, learned to sail, found some friends, and sent their purse seiner north without them. Beyond the motivators of $10k or steak knives, they had to graduate, and they had to make it to Alaska in time for the fishing season. They made it, everyone cheered, diplomas were had, fish were caught, money was made, and the aluminum sharpie headed south on their fishboat, just aft of the net reel.
Henry went to college, Malachi went to sea, Greg kept fishing with Henry and his other son Joe along for the summers. The sharpie sat in the yard like a beacon of past glory and a siren song for the possibility of another run.
In our experience, the difference between ‘near death’ and ‘adventure’ is two years.
It could be that, it could be that the younger Veitenhans felt that his time had come, or it could be that two years of college/work had taught Henry and Malachi absolutely nothing (other than how to swear, their application was riddled with a blue streak of things we can’t print, even on the internet). Whatever the reason, Team North2Alaska respawned in 2019. Same boat, half new crew, twice the WTFE life skills that are high on ‘can do,’ and low on ‘attention to details.’ Best examples: they expletively professed their love for heavy PVC rain gear, talked about how effing fancy they are by upgrading to sliding seat rowing stations, one of their crew put 11/28/19 as his birthdate.
We believe that they are young, and while we’ve had at least one soul participate in utero, if it’s true, North2Alaska would include the first racer to apply before he was even conceived.
North to Alaska returners are joined by the younger brother Joe and a couple of new guys with more experience than their age should claim in water exploits like commercial fishing, sailing long distances in tiny boats, and kayak polo. (No, we didn’t know/don’t believe that’s a thing either).
Whatever the reasons, welcome back to the R2AK, Team North2Alaska. We couldn’t be happier that your education has been wasted on you.