Update by the Race Boss
Day 9 in Ketchikan—with mercury high-fiving the 70º mark—started seeing the R2AK reunion in full swing with ten teams now in, two of them late/early enough today to find themselves wrangled into the total. Mere miles from the finish line, Team Wraith 2AK pulled a surprising upset by out-slowing Mustang Survival’s Team Rite of Passage to win the coveted 10th place award—though they were still not fast/slow enough to unseat the 2019 record-holder, High Seas Drifters, who came in 10th at 5d 9h 20m. However, we have moved solidly into digression and will talk more about today, tomorrow.
All that is to say, many teams are in, and the finish line is swelling with fans, racers turned fans, family who were always fans, and the random Ketchikan visitors who stroll down to the docks because of the hoopla and become fans. Eventually, every team wanders from elation to reeling through the past days or weeks in interactive, ad hoc storytelling. Off-camera, racer-on-racer conversations share intimate moments along the course in a type of confession that can only be witnessed by those who have shared in the experiment. Team Kootenay Pedalwheelers went west coast wide, and as much as Roger never regretted it, he missed the camaraderie of the Inside Passage. “We took a beating outside, and I can’t say we did much sailing that was fun. It’s wilderness out there, empty and cool, but we missed the match racing, the other teams.” Log dodging was still on the list of terrible memories: “Doing eight or nine knots at night north of Bella Bella was a little much.” Odin of Team Elsewhere, in a moment of homage and eponymic zeal, named them Dragon Slayers. Odin—now 20—who raced in 2019 with Team Ziska on the oldest vessel ever raced, was contacted by Team Elsewhere to race two days before the start and used one of those days to move out of his house. Temporarily homeless, Odin moved on the boat just before embarking on the Proving Ground. After landing in Ketchikan, he remembered the race in huge swaths. “We sailed perfectly and never had to wake up the off watch for sail changes.” His low point? Perhaps the moon shot they gave Team Pure and Wild, who were already heading south as they were finishing their last miles. “We mooned them as they passed us. But then they turned around and gave us KIND bars and beer. We felt kinda bad.” Odin is already dreaming of racing his Santa Cruz next year, but not before installing a water ballast device he has dubbed the Butt Snorkeler. (Stay tuned!)
The finish line reels through time and eventually turns to teams still south. Those dedicated story foragers who are measuring each mile by its shorter segments are never forgotten by those fresh-landed in Ketchikan. We are more than a minute away from greeting our next teams, and nine teams still look toward making the halfway point of Bella Bella. But finish line time defies calendars, in a way. And every time that bell is struck, a moment of celebration anew.
First Team Fix Oder Nix by Julian Laffin, second Team Seas the Day by Lynnette Oostmeyer, third Team Perseverance by Julian Laffin
24-Hour Fact Sheet
- $10 – The price of a “Fashionably Late” cocktail at the Uncharted Alaska Distillery
- 2 – Miles remaining when Mustang Survival’s Team Rite of Passage overtook Team Wraith 2AK
- 3 – Solo teams remaining
- 10 – Hours spent on the pedals by Team Hardship on their last day
- ½ – Operable pedal drives aboard Team Hardship’s boat on their last day
- 13 – Teams yet to finish
- 33 – Fish and chips ordered by racers at the Alaska Fish House upon arrival
- 0 – Things we know about the teams down south. Check back tomorrow.
Field Report: Lagoon Cove: A Forced Perspective of Beauty and Community
By Rebecca Ross, Field Reporter
As the Race to Alaska continues for many, so does the film crew’s chase to track down racers to photograph and interview. On board a 44’ steel Diesel Duck named Seaducktress, we make our way through Queen Charlotte Strait and catch up with Teams Don’t Tell Mom and Let’s Row Maybe?. The two teams are focused as they fight against the choppy currents.
From there, we progress through Broughton Archipelago towards a full-service marina in Lagoon Cove on East Cracroft Island. For hours, we’re graced by islands chock full of lush green conifers while larger snow-peaked mountains loom in the background. A sight I have never seen before and recall many racers looking forward to camping in the area.
Proceeding towards the marina, Peter Geerlofs, a member of the Northwest Maritime Center board of directors and our R2AK volunteer captain, puts Seaducktress into neutral, but instead, the engine dies. Unable to restart the engine, he thinks fast and scrambles to drop the anchor to save a 37-ton boat from helplessly drifting into the dock. After being safely moored to the dock with the help of Dan and Kelly, the new marina owners, we try to settle our nerves… Keep Reading