Team members: Graham Heath, Serjei Moukminov, JT Hammill
Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Race vessel: Windward 30
Human propulsion: Oars
We’ve seen all kinds in this thing.
If there was a pie chart that depicted historical preparedness for the R2AK, there would be a wedge-shaped portion to represent the boy scout teams who were 100% dialed in months ahead, a bigger wedge for the teams who hit the starting line with a few unchecked items on the list, and at least a half-circle worth of teams who would crumple up the paper and eat it—because they were tragically hungover and/or thought it was funny (‘Pie. Huh-huh, get it?’). We’ve had boats still being built in the dark hours before the race, boats so new and untested that there was literally still bubble wrap on them, more than one whose crew’s first time on the boat was the delivery to the race. While the proportions vary by team, there is a sum total of four things that crews need to make it the whole way:
Whether it’s the nature of sailors, R2AK nation’s love for the wingnut underdog, or the nature of a good story—whatever the reason, we see our fair share of 1, 2, and 3. 4 tends to be in short supply. Until now.
Wise men and Elvis say only fools rush in, and while we don’t know if Team Pitoraq sings Presley or Shadrach on Karaoke night, they clearly listened to one of them and spent the first four races and their whole lives seemingly getting ready for R2AK 2019.
Pitoraq’s experience goes deep. Canadian Naval Captains, cross-pacific delivery crews, certifications galore, progressive boat ownerships, tug boat work towing things in and around Canada—each step on their R2AK CVs looks like the methodical, incremental progress towards getting ready. Every year a little more, a little farther. We launched the R2AK in 2015 before we had figured out the details; these guys worked out the details to the details before they threw their hat in the ring.
R2AK: Stump carved by a chainsaw. Team Pitoraq: Scissor clipped bonsai tree.
While it doesn’t fit neatly into their through line story, Team Pitoraq is involved in defining the next phase of sail relevancy: a ‘carbon negative’ effort to create a sailing cargo ship. (Really, pretty cool, check it out: sailcargo.org.)
Their race vessel is steeped in the same ethic of preparedness. The North Coast 30 is a West Coast Canadian design, sailed by west coast Canadians, for the race up the Canadian west coast. Seems pretty intentional. Team Pitoraq has sailed this boat since it rolled off the assembly line in 1983. Since taking delivery a millennial ago, they’ve moved from cruising, to racing, to the race cruise of the R2AK. Some teams have never sailed their boat before they try to race it to Alaska. Team Pitoraq has sailed their boat for 36 years—twice as long as at least one team has been alive.
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Pitoraq. We’re excited to see the future you’ve already manifested.