Before we get to rules, R2AK was created not as a cutthroat competition but as the best way we know to spread excitement about the magic of onwater adventures that are human powered and sail driven and to remind us all that big adventure can be obtainable on virtually any budget.
You have integrity.
By participating, you are affirming to live to a higher standard, that you believe how things are done are as important as what is accomplished.
You could eat your way to Alaska on a cruise ship but that’s not what this is about.
R2AK was created to reduce the constructs to a bare minimum, trusting in the self-reliance, seamanship, and honor of our participants rather than relying on enforcement of an artificial body of rules. The spirit of this race lives in the camaraderie of the racers and the unwavering impartiality of the elements.
In short: we’re all in this together, and nature bats last.
The actual rules are simple…
Rule 1: Get a boat without an engine
Are you a kayaker extraordinaire?
An ocean rower?
A paddler on a First Nation racing canoe?
Do you feel like yanking the engine out of your yacht and rolling the dice?
We’re okay with all of these – and most other wingnut ideas you might have. Just no engines- not even “just in case”.
Size of boat doesn’t matter and you can bring as many crew as you want as long as all of them are on for the whole race- no switching out. Route choice and boat selection are key strategies of R2AK. But remember:
Just because you can do something doesn’t make it a good idea.
You’re on your own out there, and if a rescue is even possible it could be days away – err on the side of caution.
Rule 2: Start in Port Townsend
The first stage of the race is the sprint across the border to Victoria, British Columbia- 40 miles away across the exposed and notoriously rough Strait of Juan de Fuca. We’ll have more of a safety structure in place for the first stage in case things get hairy. The second stage has no race specific safety net.
If you make it to Victoria without assistance then you’ve qualified for the second stage, which starts two days later. We don’t hate you. We’ll give you a little time to fix your boat and reconsider the race entirely.
Rule 3: Travel Unsupported
This means no support boats, no food drops, no guy you call for information or that other guy you hired to stand on the shore and hand you cups of Gatorade. The deal is that you can have help along the way, just nothing you pre-arranged and whatever you do has to be available to the other racers too.
Rule 4: Finish one of three ways:
1. Do the short course and finish in Victoria
The first stage is a qualifier for those continuing on and is a great option as a skill builder, a trial run for folks considering the full race for the future, or people with limited time- this is big adventure in a single go.
2. Do the full course and finish in Ketchikan
For the glory! Do the full monty within the time allowed:
750 miles from PT to AK, passing through the waypoint in Bella Bella, all before the sweep boat catches you.
3. Finish with the sweep boat
A sweep boat will head north as a rolling disqualifier- if the boat passes you, you’re out of the race.
Need more specific info?
A few things that might help your race planning here: 2023 Race Packet
Hit up the Race Forum. It’s the best place to ask questions and get them answered.