KETCHIKAN, Alaska — Three teams have completed the third annual Race to Alaska, but 27 more are still making their way up the coast after five days of sailing, paddling, rowing and pedaling.
Team Pure &Wild arrived in a trimaran at Ketchikan, Alaska, at 3:05 p.m. Thursday, only six minutes before Team Big Broderna, to claim the grand prize of $10,000 in the third annual Race to Alaska, hosted by the Northwest Maritime Center of Port Townsend and sponsored by UnCruise Adventures.
Team Big Broderna, also in a trimaran, won a set of steak knives.
For its third-place status, Team Bad Kitty — a bivy sack catamaran — won only bragging rights, as will the other motorless boats competing in the 750-mile race from Port Townsend.
On Saturday afternoon, two teams, Ketch Me If U Can and West Coast Wild Ones, had a substantial lead over the other 25 teams. They were sailing through the cluster of islands just south of Prince Rupert, B.C., likely still a day’s sail from the finish line in Ketchikan.
Ketch Me If U Can, a two-person team from San Francisco, was just ahead of Team West Coast Wild Ones, a four-person team from Whistler, B.C. just after noon Saturday.
Team West Coast Wild Ones is the first monohull boat in the race to make it past Bella Bella, B.C.
“We’re in, like, a 1970s cruising boat with all the amenities,” said Becky McCleery of Team West Coast Wild Ones in a livestream posted on Facebook on Thursday.
“When we got to the dock in Port Townsend, we were looking around at all the boats, and they were all pretty racy,” said Keanna Coral in the Thursday livestream. “We’re definitely the fattest, chubbiest little boat here.”
The team fell behind Ketch Me If U Can on Saturday morning but is still the fastest monohull in the race.
“This is, like, pretty crazy that we’re doing so well,” Coral said. “We do have all pretty good sailors aboard and all the sails, like we’ve talked about before, but we’re doing really good. We all just signed up to do this for fun.”
Team Heart of Gold was still holding on to his lead as the fastest man-powered team.
Karl Kruger of Orcas Island is one of three paddleboarders in the race.
Kruger set out from Alert Bay at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. According to a Facebook post from his wife, Jessica Kruger, Team Heart of Gold capitalized on a weather window Saturday in an attempt to get around Cape Caution, an area known for big ocean swells.
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, Kruger had crossed the channel between Vancouver Island and the mainland and was paddling at just over 4 knots along Bramham Island, just south of Cape Caution.
Kruger celebrated his 45th birthday Wednesday with a cup of coffee at his camp on the beach near Comox, B.C., and Daphne Stuart, an R2AK photographer, grabbed a livestream interview.
Kruger packs light, sleeping in a sleeping bag and bivy sack rather than using a tent, and eats power gels and protein shakes.
“I can’t paddle on a full stomach,” Kruger said in the livestream.
Kruger did grab a burger Friday night, according to his wife.
Kruger is leading the paddlers with a substantial lead. Behind him are Team Rod Price Adventure and Team Viz Reporter.
The two were paddling almost side by side Saturday afternoon just across the channel from Port Neville, B.C.
Viz Reporter is a solo kayaker and Rod Price is canoeing with the help of some inflatable outriggers and a small sail.
Price was missing for about 30 hours Thursday after race officials couldn’t reach him on his cellphone and his tracker hadn’t moved in almost 24 hours.
Matt Pruis of Team Viz Reporter is credited with finding Price on Friday morning. According to race officials, Price has decided to wait out the weather at his Maud Island campsite after attempting to battle through Seymour Narrows.
“R2AK is unsupported, but not unsupervised,” race officials posted on their Facebook on Thursday asking any racers or race fans in the area to keep an eye out.
The Joint Rescue Forces Canada were also called out to check Price’s route.
He was found safe and sound and livestreamed from the beach Friday with R2AK photographer Stuart and Pruis. Price and Pruis plan to paddle together for the remainder of the race.
For more information, see r2ak.com.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].