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Inaugural ‘Race to Alaska’ Will Be a True Test of Maritime Skills

The first-ever Race to Alaska will be an exciting and challenging journey for anyone brave enough to enter with their craft. The catch? No engines allowed – boats may only be powered by sails, oars or paddles.

The race will begin off of Port Townsend, Washington – a small seaside town about 55 miles from Seattle. From there the contestants will go to Victoria, British Columbia where they will be greeted by a waterfront celebration. Then they set out for Ketchikan, Alaska, the terminus of the race, by way of the scenic Inside Passage. The total distance is 750 miles.

The race is comprised of two stages. The starting gun for the first phase of the Race to Alaska will sound in Port Townsend on June 4, 2015 for the 40 mile ‘sprint’ across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Racers will set off from Victoria for Phase Two a few days later, on June 7th, and keep on going until Ketchikan, Alaska. No one knows how quickly the winning vessel will reach the finish, but the organizers guess it will be 3-4 weeks, weather dependent.

The race is open to any self-supporting team with a boat that meets the criteria. A $10,000 prize — and extreme bragging rights — are up for grabs for the inaugural race winners! The race is organized by the non-profit Northwest Maritime Center as a way to raise awareness of their mission to celebrate traditional maritime skills and technology. As their website puts it –

“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 god’s green earth.”

Photo by Dana via creative commons

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