Race to Alaska Explained

Stage 1 Race start: Sunday, June 9, 2024, 5:00 AM, Port Townsend, Washington
Stage 2 Race start: Wednesday, June 12, 2024, High Noon, Victoria, BC
Application Open: Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at noon
Application deadline: Tax Day baby! April 15

The inside passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial, sailing craft for centuries, and after someone found gold in the Klondike the route was jammed with steamboats full of prospectors elbowing each other out of the way for the promise of fortune.

It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and self-reliance that Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.

This isn’t for everyone

It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

The hardest kind of simplicity

You, a boat, a starting gun. $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter.

This race is served in two courses:

R2ak Map 2023 Sm
The full-course chart can be downloaded in PDF format here. And also available for purchase. Charts are 10″ by 24″ and printed on tear/water resistant paper.

Stage 1: The Proving Ground

Port Townsend to Victoria BC (40 miles)

R2AK  starts with an initial jaunt across open water, two sets of shipping lanes, and an international border.  While not a race in itself, the Proving Ground is designed as a qualifier for the full race and as a stand-alone 40 mile sprint for people who just want to put their toe in.

If you want to be a part of R2AK but don’t have the time or inclination for the full race- join for a full day of all out racing across some of the biggest water in the course. Racers continuing on will clear Canadian customs in Victoria.

Stage one finishers get to bask in the glory for a full day and a half.

Stage 2: To the Bitter End

Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, AK (710 miles)

Racers start in Victoria at high noon on the Wednesday after the Stage 1 start and continue until they reach Ketchikan—or are tapped out by the sweep boat. Other than two waypoints–at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella–there is no official course. To quote the bard, You can go your own way.

If this sounds like your brand of whiskey, R2AK is the race for you.

Want to go all in?

Become a sponsor and be a part of the next great adventure.

Want to race?

These waters are serious business, so dig deep, ask yourself if you’re ready and think you can get by our Vetting Team, then:

Read these and apply.