Grant Gridley and Maisie Bryant, two of the five-person crew of Team Blue Flash, inventory the food and water they will be taking with them as they sail to Ketchikan, Alaska, on the second leg of the 750-mile Race to Alaska. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Grant Gridley and Maisie Bryant, two of the five-person crew of Team Blue Flash, inventory the food and water they will be taking with them as they sail to Ketchikan, Alaska, on the second leg of the 750-mile Race to Alaska. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Racers leave today for 710-mile leg of Race to Alaska

VICTORIA — The Race to Alaska resumes at high noon today as boats of all shapes and sizes depart from Victoria on a 710-mile motorless journey to Ketchikan, Alaska.

The two-leg, self-supported race began in Port Townsend amid a festive sendoff at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Thirty-six vessels arrived in Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Thursday. Three others — a monohull, kayak and rowboat — arrived Friday, race officials said.

Thirty-six teams were expected to attempt the second stage up the inside passage to Alaska, Race Boss Daniel Evans said Saturday.

“Teams have their boats ripped apart,” Evans said when reached by cell phone in Victoria.

“They’re doing last-minute repairs. They’re drying out anything that might be wet. They’re really strategizing. They’re heads are into the race.”

Competitors were expecting a “suffer-fest” today because of the lack of favorable winds, Evans said.

Last year, 27 of the 41 teams that entered the competition made it to Ketchikan.

Evans said the race becomes an adventure after Campbell River, the last hint of civilization — and cell phone service — for hundreds of miles.

The remote inside passage is known for its strong currents.

“There’s simply nothing out there for you but yourself,” Evans said.

“The decisions become very, very different when you know that there’s no bailout.”

The Race to Alaska winner collects a $10,000 prize. The second-place finisher receives a set of steak knives.

Winning the 40-mile “proving ground” stage from Port Townsend to Victoria was PT Watercraft, a Port Townsend customized Gougeon 32 catamaran. The team of Russell Brown, Ashlyn Brown and Alex Spear arrived in Victoria at 9:10 a.m. Thursday.

First Federal’s Sail like a Girl, an all-woman monohull sailing team from Bainbridge Island, arrived in second place 41 minutes later.

If the conditions are favorable, Evans predicted that the fastest teams would reach Ketchikan in about five days.

One competitor, Seattle cyclist Matt Johnson of Team Take Me to the Volcano, will attempt to reach Alaska using only pedal power, Evans said.

Volunteers will travel with the Race to Alaska in two boats. The event has an interactive website with links to the teams and their social media sites.

To track the competition, go to www.r2ak.com.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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