PORT TOWNSEND — The Northwest Maritime Center, which sponsors the Race to Alaska, will debut a new race this year that will challenge racers to paddle the 70 miles between Tacoma and Port Townsend in 48 hours.
The Seventy48 will start June 11 in Tacoma, and racers will have 48 hours to get to Port Townsend under human power alone, with no motors or sails allowed.
“I call it a front-country race,” said Daniel Evans, co-founder of the Race to Alaska (R2AK) and the annual race boss.
“The Race to Alaska is a backcountry race where you just see blips on the map. But this race takes specific parts of the Race to Alaska and moves it down to Washington.”
The race is like the R2AK in that there are very few rules other than participants must start in Tacoma and get to Port Townsend in 48 hours using only human power. Racers can map their own course, just like in the R2AK, except that all racers must cross through the Port Townsend Canal on the southeast side of Port Townsend Bay between Marrowstone and Indian islands and Port Hadlock.
“That’ll be the main strategic spots because there will be time that boats won’t be able to get through there at all due to currents,” Evans said. “Other than that, it’s any boat that you want, as much crew as you want, get through some specific waypoints and that’s it. It has elements of the Race to Alaska but [is] more accessible.”
According to Evans, accessibility was a big inspiration for the Seventy48 race.
The entry fee for teams is $200, which breaks down to $50 for the application fee, $50 for registration and $100 into the payout.
“We’re keeping the entry fee intentionally low to keep the race accessible,” Evans said. “The access is kind of the most important part for us. That’s also why it’s just 48 hours”
“And the more people that do it, the better the payout,” said Anika Colvin, communications manager for the Northwest Maritime Center. “This is the kind of race you can get all your friends together to do and train for.”
Each team’s $100 contribution will make up the payout for the first-place finisher of the Seventy48 race, and it will be winner takes all, according to Evans.
The inaugural Seventy48 will kick off with a “pre-funk” party at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, which will feature human-power athletes Karl Kruger, the first paddleboarder to complete the 750-mile R2AK, and Natalia Cohen, one of the Coxless Crew rowers, an all-female team that rowed across the Pacific in 2016.
The race will start June 11 in Tacoma and finish in Port Townsend on June 13, just in time for the R2AK pre-race Ruckus. R2AK will begin at 5 a.m. June 14.
“Parties are good for everyone, and we’re bookending this race with fun,” Evans said.
Evans said racers have expressed interest in doing the Seventy48 race and taking off from Port Townsend the next day to Victoria for the R2AK proving ground race.
“Obviously not everyone has to go that far,” Evans said.
Racers can sign up starting today at the new website, www.seventy48.com.
“We’re celebrating the best in us all,” Evans said, “courage, tenacity and the belief we are stronger than we ever thought.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.