They are at it again, those shameless rascals at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend Washington. Against everyone’s better judgement, they are running the second inaugural edition of the Race to Alaska (R2AK for the spelling impaired). 750 miles from Pt Townsend Washington to Ketchikan Alaska with no motor and no outside support. We cannot condone this sort of insanity and wonder at the hold it has on the cool, calm and reasonable folks in Port Townsend. Quiet, God-fearing, fleece wearing, coffee drinking, traditionalists – this race turns them into drum-beating, yoga-practicing, wilderness adventure sailboat racers! They even challenged Larry Ellison to enter an Americas Cup boat in the race for godsakes. Have they lost all respect for the sport of sailing! Larry isn’t going to let loose one of his billion dollar flying foilers amongst the rocks, currents, icy blasts and wilderness of Canada and Alaska for a set of steak knives. Its ridiculous.
Some 33 suckers…..er, teams….have entered the race thus far (Entries close on April 15. Team Tritium better get their ass in gear). Of the 33 hopefuls – 6 are full up, sailing trimarans – not your little plastic Hobie kayak thingies – but six real, honest to God, tri-hull sailboats. Three ARE the ‘yaking type trimarans – more kayak than sailboat, but still sporting three um….pods. The tri-yaks are very cool, but they just can not compete with an F31R…….great adventure, much to be admired….but not contenders.
We perused the entry list for about 20 minutes while swigging a bit of Morgan to provide our own self-indulgent, somewhat expert, questionable analysis. Use it to post your own prediction on the R2AK Swagger Wall – along with your five spot, tho its your money and what you do with it is your own business.
The nine tri-mariners are:
- Team Big Broderna – F31R
- Team MOB Mentality – F85SR
- Team Lost Boys – F24
- Team LiteBoat – custom French Liteboat kayak thingy
- Team Goldrush – custom garage built kayak thingy
- Team Take Me to the Volcan0 – yet to be built kayak thingy
- Team Fly – F27
- Team Alula – F27
- Team Sistership – F27
Immediately we can see that all the non-kayak thingys were designed by that Multihull Elf from New Zealand Mr Ian Farrier! The same elf who designed the top two finishers from the LAST race – and 4 of the top 15! What does he know that Larry doesnt? Lots, turns out.
The 6 boats with F in front of their name are tough, strong, light boats that can take a pounding and come back for more. They are light enough to move well in zephyrs, provide a stellar platform for paddling or peddling, are stable and fast in the sloppy cauldrons when tide goes against wind, and protect their crew enough to allow the tough ‘uns to keep going.
Boldy, with nothing at all in it, and nothing riding – we confidently predict another F-Boat victory in 2016!
To the point – we predict Team Big Broderna to be the 2016 winner of the 10K grand prize and Team Sistership to take home the steak knives from the runnner up spot.
Before you get all snippy about us picking GIRLS to win steak knives – listen up. We know the boys aboard Team Broderna – were around last year when they prepared their F-24 “Little Borderna” – watched as they matched tacks with Por Favor inside the tide line – watched as they dismasted in the middle of Johnstone Strait – got the low-down when they returned. Coulda, woulda, shoulda said Lars as he casually shrugged his shoulders and headed out to sea for another crab season. Tough, tough dudes are the Strandbergs – Norse by God and temperament – and now they have a weapon as tough as they. The F31R is an all around great boat we all know – but here is Big Broderna’s ace – she will be able to rest – really rest – her crew, maintaining progress while their competitors stop. Without giving too much away, Captain Lars strategy is to go 24×7 – to drive her like a leased crabber – and rest for the off watch will be imperative – and required. The 31R can pull that off over the 5-8 days it will take Big Broderna to sky up to Ketchikan.
Second place is a lot more difficult to predict.
Team Fly – we knew this boat as Danger Zone in another life – fast, tough, experienced but ultimately these guys are mere professionals – and this race requires much more than that. Apologies boys – but thats how I see it……shes got old sails and has been sailed hard. Unless you pumped a lot of cash into her……be happy with the finish. You aint taking MOB, Broderna or……. I will buy the first round in Port Townsend.
Team Alula – a darkhorse, three aboard – surfers, divers and adventurers – in wheelchairs – fearless, expect them to get distracted by the wilderness and take numerous side excursions to view interesting future expedition routes rather than continue full on racing. Will buy you fellas a beer too just to entice you back down out of the Coast Range – if its not snowing and you’re up catching some spring pow.
Team Mail Order Bride (MOB) – experienced, cagey, knows the waters, fast as hell. Wayne will pull over and rest while contemplating future conditions and possibilities. He is a master of sailing chess – played tide and current perfectly to take 2nd in 2015. Never count Wayne out, but his Achilles heel is his concern for his beautiful boat. He intends to race MOB throughout the Northwest for an entire sailing season – to lose a mast, or damage a float during the R2AK would scotch that season. MOB will pull over rather than risk damage, opening the door for someone who would sacrifice the boat for victory.
Enter Team Sistership.
We have written about them before – here. They were recently featured in Ms Magazine. Professional sailors and outdoors-women they have something to prove. Theirs is a stout ship – even for F27 standards – recently refitted. New rigging and sails ensure Sistership scoots. These women are tough…the boat is in the water and they are actively racing and training. They will continue when others subside, they will advance when others retire, they will push ahead when others pull over, they are as fierce as their Norse brothers on Broderna. While not the most experienced of the three F27 crews, they are the most motivated. This race is decided on teamwork and cohesion as much as brawn and strength – timing the tidal streams is paramount – push hard now to get thru the narrows before the tide turns, then go easy and rest everyone till the next reversal – playing the tidal slinky. Sistership will have this sorted and will trail Broderna by less than 48 hours. Sistership WILL have steak knives at the finish. Heirloom steak knives…..really good ones…..sterling silver….antique……best ever….super expensive….diamond handles….THOSE steak knives.
So there you have it – Team Big Broderna the winner with Team Sistership taking second – the official Trimaran Journal prediction for the 2016 Race to Alaska.
Best of luck to all the competitors – and a deep bow and tip of the hat to the good folks at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend – for coming up with this loony idea and sticking with it through year Dos.
We’ll be in Port Townsend on our very own F27 (fresh from the Bahamas…brrrrr) for the start and as much of the race as we can stomach – reporting somewhat live from the course. Trimaran Journal – out.