8-person sailboat may reach Ketchikan today

Team captain led Sail Like a Girl to 2017 victory

Team We Brake for Whales, currently in first place in the Race to Alaska, pulled into the checkpoint in Bella Bella, British Columbia, on Sunday. The team could reach the finish line in Ketchikan, Alaska, as soon as today. (Peter Geerlofs via Northwest Maritime Center)

Team We Brake for Whales, currently in first place in the Race to Alaska, pulled into the checkpoint in Bella Bella, British Columbia, on Sunday. The team could reach the finish line in Ketchikan, Alaska, as soon as today. (Peter Geerlofs via Northwest Maritime Center)

Several teams have dropped out of the Race to Alaska as heavy winds set in, but the first of the remaining teams is expected to arrive in Ketchikan as early as today.

Team We Brake for Whales overcame a 10-mile deficit over the weekend to take the lead in the race and, as of Monday afternoon, was well ahead of the second-place team, Dogsmile Adventures.

We Brake for Whales was the first to arrive at the only checkpoint required along the route — the town of Bella Bella, British Columbia — and, according the race organizers, the first to arrive at the checkpoint is statistically most likely to win the race.

A team of eight sailors on a 40-foot monohull sailboat, We Brake for Whales was less than 200 nautical miles from the race finish Monday afternoon.

The team’s captain, Jeanne Goussev, won 2017’s Race to Alaska with a different team — team Sail Like a Girl — and is the only woman skipper to have run and won the race, according to Molly McCarthy, communications director for the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, which organizes the race.

In second place was the four-person trimaran team Dogsmile Adventures and in third place was the five-person catamaran team Budgie Smugglers.

In fourth place Monday afternoon was a trimaran with only one person, team Pestou.

“He’s sailing single-handed,” McCarthy said of Eric Pesty, the only member of team Pestou.

“All these other sailboats are doing rotations. He’s doing it all by himself,” she said.

McCarthy also noted the one-man rowboat team Wave Forager, whose captain Ken Deem was in 12th place Monday afternoon.

“He’s making excellent time,” McCarthy said.

Several human-powered race teams — kayakers, rowboats and a stand-up paddle boarder — remained in the race, but as of Monday afternoon, none of them had cleared the northern end of Vancouver Island.

First place will receive a $10,000 cash prize and second place a set of engraved steak knives. No other prizes are awarded in the race.

Five teams dropped out over the weekend, with one citing unfavorable weather and others suffering damage to their hulls.

“We’re out,” team TriMorons posted Monday on their social media page. “We hit something underwater a long way from shore, think it was a rock. It cracked the daggerboard case and we started filling up with water.”

The sailing trimaran team Mojo also pulled out, citing damage to their hull, as did the solo-sailor team Hornblower. Solo kayaker team Zen Dog Again also dropped out of the race over the weekend.

According to race statistics, 24 teams are left in the race. They have until July 1 to finish.

Teams can be tracked in real-time on the race’s website, R2AK.com, and many of the teams have social media pages where they post updates.

The race is organized by Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center, and the handle @RacetoAlaska can be followed on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Videos can be found at the center’s YouTube page.

________

Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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