Are you feeling an urge for an adventure? Why not compete in a race where first prize is $10 000? In June 2015, you can paddle, row, or sail in the Race to Alaska. The Maritime Museum of B.C. and the Northwest Maritime Centre in Port Townsend, Washington, are calling competitive nautical folk to join a 1 200 kilometre, non-motorized marathon from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska.
If you are the first team to reach Ketchikan without the aid of an engine, you will receive $10 000—cash. Second place: a set of steak knives (actually).
I attended the press release for the event in an old courtroom at the Maritime Museum. Taking the only man-operated birdcage elevator in North America to the third floor, I entered the courtroom. I found Jake Beattie, the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Centre, giving a slide show of the race, the first officially timed passage on the B.C. coast.
Beattie said “people do this trip in engineless boats every year, but there has never been a race.” Even if you don’t win the cash prize or knives, you can potentially set world records.
Apart from having an engine-less boat, there really are no rules. You can use any boa—bought or self-built. The race is set to begin next June in Port Townsend (weather permitting) and divided into two stages. You can sign up for the first stage from Port Townsend to Victoria, or continue on the second stage from Victoria to Ketchikan. The entry fee is $650 for teams going the full route or just $50 for teams sticking to the initial stage. The initial stage acts as a qualifier because “if you make the 50 miles to Victoria without needing rescue, you are qualified to continue to Ketchikan,” said Beattie.
There are two mandatory waypoints in Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, but the route is up to you. There are no regulations on how many people are allowed onboard, but no swapping out teammates. Whoever finished the race must be the same as who started it.
This adventure is not for the faint of heart, facing some of the most treacherous passages in the world; the West Coast is, by reputation—wild. Beattie hopes to encourage people to get off the couch and into adventure. He believes racing to Alaska will inspire people to have a stronger relationship with the water and nature.
Nearly 15 teams have already signed up including Victorian local, Colin Angus, who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean with his wife. Though the race is still eight months away, Angus is already designing a boat to accommodate whatever the West Coast throws at him.
You don’t have to be on the cover of National Geographic to join the race; anyone can sign up. If you have a soul that seeks adventure, nautical skills, and a engine-less boat, you fit the bill. It may not be the easiest way to make $10 000, but it’s worth a stroke.
For registration details and more information please visit racetoalaska.com.