Day Done: A Letter From Race Boss

Let’s start with the facts.

Forty-four teams started with dreams of glory and sea spray, fears of the rugged places, and pedaling-induced injuries. Of those, 32 aimed for the whole enchilada: the 750-mile gut-punch to Ketchikan. And to start the thing off, the Proving Ground didn’t disappoint. A perfect blend of (almost) Coast Guard-free waters and just enough mayhem to give racers some pucker. The Proving Ground was crafted as a filter, a big bad piece of water to cross with big decisions to be made. Sometimes (like 2023), it takes a nap. Sometimes (like 2022), it has a vendetta and is, perhaps, even a little spicier than required for our purposes. But this year? A threatening gale and large sloppy seas created The Fear—thanks, Poseidon.

After the traditional Victoria holdover, where the anticipation swells to a fever pitch, they were off; a starting cannon and a blast from the French horn of Dan from Team Hornblower sent over 100 racers sprinting to their vessels and out of the harbor mouth. The early days of this race packed little punch—Mother Nature took her chill pills, and the infamous Johnstone Strait was more kitten than lion. Logs weren’t the big bad wolf this year, but pedal drive breakages kept teams on their toes, or rather, on their knees, puzzling over makeshift repairs. Shoutout to Team Mr. X, who discovered cod liver oil as a surprisingly effective gear lubricant. When life gives you lemons, make fishy lemonade.

It was clear from the jump that unless yet another water-bound tree attacked, the race was Team Malolo’s to lose. And lose they didn’t. After several attempts, Duncan Gladman and his white horse Dragon finally clinched the win, the $10,000, and perhaps the ability to follow through with his oft-repeated words: “Never Again.” With a strong second-place finish, Team Brio is now the proud owner of the 8th set of knives, and we think it’s time to get knife-winning teams together for a steak dinner.

Another few records came this year. A Hobie 16 finally made the finish line. With Team Tips Up’s nine-day run, they’ve firmly embedded themselves in R2AK lore—taking a full 3 ½ feet and 13 days off of Team Ravenous’s 2018 Hobie-finish. With that time, they easily became the 2024 Duckworks 20’ and Under Prize winners. Congrats. Team Wicked Wily Wildcat also grabbed some fame, and in a Marshall Sanderling Catboat nonetheless. With a finish time of just under 11 days, Adam Cove is now the fastest solo monohull ever to finish.

Fan favorites abound, and we’re not going to write about them all here. Why? Because you were there. You—the fans—have been along every step of the way, and I happen to know that your support, your love, and your kind words were as much a driving force as anything. As Race Boss, I get the inside scoop—and more than one racer told me in confidence that they were on the verge of quitting before a well-timed piece of encouragement from the race world gave them the boost they needed to carry on.

Also in line for massive thanks are some of the R2AK sponsors without whom this thing doesn’t happen. Huge shout-out to Fisheries Supply in Seattle: our go-to gear gods. Without their deep discounts and last-minute saves, half the fleet would still be duct-taping their boats together. Alaska Fish House and Baranof Fishing Excursions, our ever-gracious hosts in Ketchikan, allow us to turn every finish into a personalized celebration. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, our social glue and pedal-drive lubricant, keeps us connected and thriving in town. Chateau Victoria, Shearwater Resort, and Cape Fox Lodge all provided accommodations for our media team—each so comfortable that we had trouble getting the videographers out of bed to do their jobs.

Next year, we switch gears and head into a new paradigm where R2AK is a biennial affair. I know—you’re already wondering what you’ll do to fill the void next June. Well here’s what you’ll do: become a WA360 fan. Don’t know what that’s about? Read up.

As for me, being Race Boss has always been an honor and a privilege. Supporting this event and community has been the adventure of a lifetime. Thank you for being part of it, for your passion, your resilience, and your unyielding spirit. See you in 2026, with more stories, more madness, and more heart than ever before.

Until then: get out there, get soaked, get scared. Live a little.

Race Boss out.

Header photo by Taylor Bayly

R2Ak Playlist

Clips From Course Copy
Mr.x Finish 3
Mr.x Finish 5
06.14 Seymournarrows 01
06.09 Provingground 60
06.13 13
06.09 Provingground 41
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06.09 Provingground 29

Photos by Taylor Bayly, Ryder Booth, & Adam Cove