Race to Alaska (R2AK)


I had to toss in a gratuitous link to an adventurous pair who are repeating their entry in the Race to Alaska in their Mirror 16. Intrepid souls need to know that people care and armchair adventurers like myself need good events to follow. This one's worthy of some attention this June/July. Check it out:

I don't know if any of you followed last year's event, but it REALLY was worth the time to check in periodically! There are some short clips from the conditions in Johnstone Straight that'll make your hair curl.


Quite a lot of small craft appear to take part, but I suspect most of them only attempt the first leg, and most that try to go further will be eliminated quickly after that by failing to keep ahead of the required minimum pace. It would be a good challenge to try to complete the course in the slowest sailing dinghy without being eliminated, but that could take many years of attempts before the weather conditions make it possible. I'm thinking Mirror 11, of course, which would be a good advert for the boat. A propeller powered by leg muscles appears to be within the rules and could be a lot more efficient than rowing, while a watermaker could eliminate the need to carry a heavy load of water - ideally you'd want that designed into the pedal system for maximum efficiency. (They aren't cheap: here's one for $1000 http://www.westmarine.com/buy/katadyn--survivor-06-watermaker--10676088 which produces nearly two litres per hour and another for $2300 http://www.westmarine.com/buy/katadyn--survivor-35-watermaker--10676104?... which produces five litres per hour, but it might be possible to get a manufacturer to sponsor the attempt, and help modify the device to integrate it with pedal power). The costs would be horrific, so the whole thing would depend on sponsorship anyway.

PuffinInTegel's picture

Several of the finishers in 2015 came on very small kayak-like craft and some were single-handed. There is no obligation to stay at sea uninterruptedly, so tanking up water under way is not an issue. Sailing that distance is simply a matter of finding the right weather window for the craft that you intend to use. So it's even possible to do it in any craft capable of carrying the bare necessities of life in that climate.
Personally, on my first-ever raid-like trip last year, I had the impression that I was carrying too much bulky stuff along and two persons would definitely be too much for a "regular" Mirror on camping trips which require one to take along food, water, cooking equipment etc.
I wish Heather and Dan better weather and good sailing this year. Any small craft that finishes the event deserves a loud cheer!
Gernot H.

The people in kayaks without sails must be pretty tough if they can maintain 75 miles a day for ten days. I don't know what happens if there's no wind at the start of the event, because it sounds as if any yacht or sailing dinghy that can't be rowed 75 miles a day would automatically be eliminated without having any chance to wait for a better weather window: that's what makes the whole thing so risky, because you could spend a fortune on getting to the start line only to be thrown out of the race before you've done a tiny fraction of it. There's a bit in the rules about no support and no food drops, so it sounds as if getting water might not be easy either unless you take it out of streams. I'd aim to do the trip without landing anywhere, partly because I wouldn't want to meet the bears (which could take an unhealthy interest in the food stored in the boat), but also because any stop is going to be costly in time. There's no need for the cooking to extend beyond boiling water and flinging in freeze-dried food (whenever conditions make that possible), and there would be no real camping either: you just need enough room for one person to lie down in a bivvy bag, and the newer FRP Mirrors look as if they may provide enough room for that up at the bow, the foredeck being lower: if you aren't too tall, I suspect you could lie there with your feet under the thwart at one side without being impossibly twisted. The worst problem I can see with the whole thing is the toilet issue, not just because you have to be on friendly terms with your crew, but because of the design of wetsuits and drysuits which could make the task lethal.