By Steve Mullensky
For Peninsula Daily News
With the snow-clad Olympic Mountains in the background and the patriotic strains of the Ukrainian national anthem playing over loudspeakers, these six sailboats of various shapes and sizes aim for the start line to embark on the Race 2 Alaska at 5 a.m. Monday morning in Port Townsend.
With only the sound of wind in the sails (no motors are allowed), oars and paddles digging into the water and waves splashing against hulls, the 38 full race teams and the 12 proving ground teams face a formidable 750 miles of sometimes calm, sometimes stormy but always-dangerous ocean water before reaching the final destination of Ketchikan, Alaska.
The winning team gets $10,000 nailed to a post while the second-place team races for a set of steak knives. The first stop is Victoria, B.C., where the teams will prove their mettle and get ready for the 710-mile stretch to Ketchikan, which gets underway on Thursday at noon in Victoria Harbour.