Saturday, June 25, 2016

Race to Alaska 2016 (Pre-race mostly)

Port Townsend's Pope Park statue was the center of the pre-
Race to Alaska Ruckus.
Last year I was intrigued by the Race to Alaska (2015) a race of non-motorized vessels without any additional support from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, AK. I read about it and became interested enough to follow it from beginning to end. The winning boat, Elsie Piddock, did the race in less than a week.

As a former ocean racer on AVIVA (my 45-ft. Hunter Legend sloop), I was able to extrapolate the conditions from reports by contestants, videos and photos, weather reports and the tracking devices on each boat.

So I decided to volunteer this year, to be a little closer to the action. I have no desire to be close enough that I can feel the very cold salt spray from the waters of Puget Sound in my face, so working as a volunteer in the Chandlery at Northwest Maritime for the pre-race Ruckus was a good choice.

And after finding a parking space (that takes a considerable bit of time in Port Townsend when there is an event these days) I still had time to walk around and look at all the various types of watercraft that people were going to use for this second race.

There was everything from a stand-up paddle board to an 8-person catamaran, which included skiffs, kayaks, scows, monohulls and a Boston Whaler Harpoon. There are all women crews, all men, mixes and two fellows who left their wheelchairs on the dock.
This screenshot of the tracking of the race shows Team Mad
Dog way ahead of the rest at 8 a.m. Winds were dying, but
not before they caught their lift and flew across the sound
with speeds of 18 knots at times. They won this part.
I had a chance to speak to some of the crew members of various boats and in their words felt the excitement I used to enjoy of imagining the start and the race ahead. I do miss it, for sure. But part of being safe is knowing when it is time to do something else on a regular basis, like walking or biking.
Competitors are prepping for the race the next day in this
Port Townsend marina. 65 boats (watercraft) entered the race.

Wednesday was a bit cool but mid afternoon the sun came out for awhile. 

Then by six p.m. when the Ruckus was in full swing, the promised front arrived with cooler air and by 7:30 p.m. it was showering everyone. I doubt anyone had to be shooed away from the event for staying too late.

Thursday was cloudy and there was enough wind to get everyone off at the start, except for five boats that for some reason or other did not get to the start within the proscribed 'golden hour.' 

You can visit for videos and replays and listings of all those signed up and those who were eliminated or withdrew.

The challenge that any race on the water faces is how to keep the spectators happy. And a race of 750 miles over water that is bordered by bears is even more difficult. But the tracker system provides a way to 'watch' a team's progress and thus stay involved to a degree. You can find the tracker here.
(For your information, once the race is completed, the tracker will no longer be operational.

Apparently the tracker developed some kind of glitch and stopped giving information mid-afternoon on Thursday, creating some anxiety for followers.

If a vessel has a large number on the bow, it is in the race.
Team Mad Dog Racing won that first stage with a Marstrom M32 catamaran sporting a red hull, a clear sail and three crew members. If you look in the photo (second in sequence) above, you can see the boat almost in the center. 

I have posted a bunch of photos (most have captions) for your enjoyment.

If you are interested in more about the race, please go to the links posted. And thanks for stopping by.

Vessels in the slips are generally contestants.

The general level of excitement on the docks was high, for
the participants and the followers.

The fellow in the wheelchair is a competitor on Team Alula,
one of three leg-challenged crew members on a 27-foot
Corsair trimaran. They are racing to Alaska.
Team Hodge came in 53rd in the Stage One race to Victoria.
When we were racing and didn't place, we would say "It
took X boats to beat us!" They finished and that's something!

Team Alula prepping for the race. They are #7, a good number.

Team Nordica finished in Victoria, too.

If I was going to buy another boat, I'd seriously look at the
Seascape 18. They were 24th across the Sound.

All by yourself...

Noddy's Noggins only planned to do Stage One and they did
it, coming in 45th. Impressive as it looks like something for
the Owl and the Pussycat.

It's the rowboat on deck that is competing... No. 60. They were only going to Victoria. Not much room for food, water.

The only stand-up paddle boarder did make
it to Victoria. Not my way to go there.

Excellent Adventure is a Montgomery 17.
They are going to Alaska.

Navocean had to withdraw after the start.

All kinds of boats entered the race; I think this is #11. If it is,
this boat did not finish the first stage. No shame in trying.

The 'Minions' of the R2AK... we think we are important (LOL)!

No comments:

Post a Comment