Day 6: Bookies, prize fighting, and acid rap to eat with

24-Hr Fact Sheet
photo: Team Don’t Tell Mom by Rebecca Ross

Update by Race Boss

The bookies over at the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce are divvying up the cash stakes everyone laid on the off chance they would be the ones to precisely predict the arrival time of first place. The total winnings are undisclosed, but we’re betting it’s not paid in candy corn, and it will make at least 1.5 dreams come true. Also, true to form, 10,000 dollars of highly suspect bills were nailed to the wall of the Alaska Fish House last night, with the simple dare to the crew of Team Pure and Wild. “If you sailed here to get it, then get it.”

This is also the exact moment Tracker Acolytes global-wide take a quick beat and proclaim another R2AK decided and done. However, if you spent more than a thumb-scrolling minute with us, you’re reaching for the third bag of Jiffy Pop, checking the anchor or mood lighting or poorly fluffed pillow, and waiting for the stories to play out.

R2AK is like an Ayn Rand novel written by a lesser Bronte, and it’s not til page 300 of this 1400-page tome that you’ll even get to understand what the hell it’s about because maybe what is most noble about this activity isn’t the play-by-play of who does what; it’s what lives in the heart, and it’s a long beat.

At time of writing, a crew of three have claimed $10,000; quickly subtracted the cost of removing a perfectly functioning engine from their boat, shipping said engine, and reinserting it two weeks later; donating a grand of the winnings to SeaShare; then calculated time taken off from work, food, supplies, costs of returning the boat, Ketchikan expenses (let’s see carry the one, move the decimal left a couple times); and have seen prize money go from black to a deep crimson red. Heart wins over math every time.

Over 359 Canada-goose-flying miles, 24 teams remain in play, taking part in astounding and distinctly different activities. 

Teams Elsewhere and Fashionably Late find themselves in a drag race arguably more exciting than the Melges showdown and knockdown fest that happened in the very same waters in 2019. In fact, the thrum on tightly tuned Spectra and stainless steel is echoing throughout the whole of the Canadian North Coast. Team Lost But Don’t Care gambled in their catfight with Vegemite Vigilantes and stuck to a short tack inside route, which is yet to be proven smart. Team High Seas Drifters ditched their ailing captain in Port McNeill and have since passed every team they have come into contact with. 

It’s true that the last we heard from Mustang Survival’s Team Rite of Passage was a desire for nothing more than a pint of Chance the Rapper’s favorite branded ice cream and a musing from Sebastian about whether the $22 Subway Steak and Bacon sub sitting on his lap was going to be worth the price (and we’re pretty sure that’s Canadian dollars, so you’re good, Sebastian). Still, this bit of leisure was just an aria to an overwhelming, hard-driving team known first for their age, now for their tenacity and resourcefulness. As they go, Enzo is rerigging the vessel from some hidden spool of Spectra and is already fantasizing about adding a flywheel to their pedal drive. (You’ve got a year, Enzo, let’s stay focused here, okay?)

Queen Charlotte Sound to the southern gate of the Inside Passage still holds firmly to an array of teams with vastly different math calculations. With heavy weather in the forecast, teams made hard fought miles in light to heavy(ish) northerlies and looked to avoid the open water by dashing from island to island. Sleep, calories, and precise water crossings override past strategies for the human-powered crews—unless you are part of the newly formed small boat regatta that has blossomed in the southern Johnstone Strait. 

They are an R2AK breed deserving their own focus; those prideful mariners who choose the most miniature boats they can get away with, they sail solo or jam as much human meat as waterlines allow and race at a pace that defies our human understandings for patience while having fun in an inverse relationship to speed.

Team Dark Star has established himself as a floating hermitage, but route and the need to borrow some damn rowing gloves will eventually send him to the flotilla.

Doug Smith of Team Dark Star, photo by Daphne Langford

This Thursday may see our steak knife winners (unless it doesn’t) and a gash of Pacific weather strong enough to hunker down in or double your wager. Either way, 24 teams row, sail, pedal, or paddle to a challenge two years in the making and one day closer to achieving it.

Andy Cross of 2018 Team Wild Card and editor at 48º North magazine is cooking up a breakdown of the days leading up to the win by Pure and Wild. It’s a racer-on-racer analysis by a rare R2AK contributor who actually knows how to string a few sentences together without wandering off into thoughts of ice cream. Look out for this in the coming days.


Photo by Rebecca Ross, Laura Bennett, and Thomas Hawthorne

24-Hr Fact Sheet

  • 6 – Number of emails to High Command complaining about the west coast route
  • 8 – Times Zen Dog has gone tracker-AWOL
  • 1 – Teams still in contention for First Woman Solo Finisher
  • 55.4 – Average water temperature of Inside Passage in degrees Fahrenheit
  • 4 – Teams duking it out for Fastest 10th Place Finisher
  • 1 – Racer “un-arrested” by The Power of Her Majesty The Queen between race stages
  • 0 – Teams preceding or following Team Dark Star into Desolation Sound
  • ⅛” – The depth of hand skin expected to slough off of Doug Smith of Team Dark Star after rowing in the rain