Stage 2, Day 5: Just Live in Liquid Suspense

It’s a big day for the Santa’s elves in Race to Alaska’s High Command. In all likelihood, today is the day when the tidal wave of racer energy washes onto Ketchikan shores and the first teams cross the finish line, ring the bell, and flop exhausted into the warm embrace of the 49th’s first city. We’re madly hanging banners with care, in hopes it’s ready ‘fore the finishing teams will be here. 

There is of course news from the course. There is so much racing, in so many races, and all in the same race. At the fore is the tip of the spear, Team Malolo who punched into the U S of A sometime in the wee hours of Day 6; Wayne Tater would be proud. The wind is filling in and doesn’t look like it’s going to let up until they are well inside of their approach to KTN. But then there are logs, torn sails, and any number of other issues that have turned presumptive winners into steak knives over the years. Even with 100 miles to go, it’s too early to lock in your offshore bets for the winner, despite whatever the tracker inaccurately claims (yes we know, and yes we’re working on it). 

Whoever finishes first, sometime today teams will start hitting the dock at the Alaska Fish House finish line with the frequency of the kicks to our seat from the 6-year-old behind us on the plane. Pretty soon, the finish line will be filled with this year’s winner, knife people, and the rest of the triumphant masses that pile onto the docks in a gloriously exhausted pile. 

When will it be? Today. Probably. 

Rather than give you our flawed lens on the news, rather than wax apologetic to all of the teams seeming to bear the retribution of us calling out Johnstone Strait as half-strength just to have it wake up with the vengeance and show us it’s still got it (Team Boogie Barge seems to be making the most of it, taking the first offramp from the Johnstone firehose and claiming a first ascent race route around Cracroft Island). Instead of all of that, today we’re going to invite you to imagine yourself in the reality of the teams at the front. 

Let’s get centered. Close your eyes. Put your feet flat on the floor. Now take a deep cleansing breath. In—two, three. And out—two, three. 

If you’re reading this you clearly failed the “eyes closed” part. Moving on. Put yourself in their shoes. 

In one way or another, this is Team Malolo’s boat’s third run at R2AK glory—more if you include that Duncan has been a part of the R2AK’s racer family since 2016. The last two bids for KTN were thwarted by driftwood. Imagine the joy in finally sailing in clear air and sea room while at the same time knowing it can all end in a boat ending log strike as the sun sets. What does it feel like to take another roll at the R2AK craps table if your dice have come up sevens two years in a row? 

What does it feel like to be duking it out behind them? At time of writing, Teams Brio and Hullabaloo are trading tacks so close to each other that they look like the same vessel on the tracker until you zoom in so close you can almost see individual waves. What does it feel like to be five days in, tired, and on top of each other? How would you feel? Exhilarated? Exhausted? Both? How do you think about the next 24 hours? 

More than all of that, what does it feel like to be at the end of a sometimes years-long process to get ready, to focus on the finish line so intently, for years only to have it all over in less than 24 hours? What next? 

Rather than tap dancing our keyboard around the fleet, today we invite you to imagine, to live one more day in liquid suspense. 

More tomorrow. 


Header photo by Garret Weintrob

Cuts From Course@200x

Today’s sonic amuse bouche comes straight from Denmark’s hottest new underground virtual dance club, Fløøøte, where last night EDM darling du jour, Portia Del Mar spun an R2AK-inspired set and dropped this new single: “Back in the Wind.” We think it sounds great even if you’re not on MDMA.