Northwest Maritime Center volunteer Brad Bebout, left, stands ready to assist team Beasts From the East, Ivan Medvedev and Egor Klevak, front, both from Seattle, as they finish first the 70-mile paddle from Tacoma to Port Townsend on Saturday morning. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Northwest Maritime Center volunteer Brad Bebout, left, stands ready to assist team Beasts From the East, Ivan Medvedev and Egor Klevak, front, both from Seattle, as they finish first the 70-mile paddle from Tacoma to Port Townsend on Saturday morning. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Race to Alaska starts today

Beasts from the East wins SEVENTY/48

PORT TOWNSEND — The 750-mile 2023 Race to Alaska begins at 5 a.m. today in Port Townsend Bay after the SEVENTY/48 race winners were given awards on Sunday.

Teams will sail the 40-mile Proving Ground from Port Townsend to Victoria. They are expected to finish in 36 hours. This is a qualifier for the long-haul second stage, To the Bitter End, which begins at noon Wednesday in Victoria and ends in Ketchikan, Alaska.

The only rules for the race are that boats can’t be powered by engines and there is no pre-planned assistance along the way — no supply drops, no safety net.

Teams can propel their boats however they choose, so long as engines aren’t involved.

Thirty-three teams are signed up to go the full distance, while seven are for the Proving Ground only.

Preceding Race to Alaska (R2AK) was the SEVENTY/48, a 70-mile human-powered race from Tacoma to Port Townsend to be accomplished in 48 hours. This fifth annual race saw 131 teams at the starting line in Tacoma. Awards were to be given at the Ruckus Party at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The overall winner of the race among 124 teams was Beasts from the East. Ivan Medvedev and Egor Klevak, both from Seattle, completed the 70-mile paddle on Saturday morning, having left Tacoma at 7 p.m. Friday in their Epic V14 surfski kayak.

Their time, 10 hours and 27 minutes, was 21 minutes ahead of the next finisher. The team members will spilt $6,200 in prize money for their win.

Other winners were to receive $1,550 each.

Seychelle, the Stand-Up class winner, is the first woman ever to win a SEVENTY48 class. The time was 15 hours, 28 minutes.

Other class winners are By Yourself — Team Gorge Downwind Champs – Paddlepaluza, 10 hours 48 minutes; and Facing Backwards — Team 2 Bro Row, 11 hours, 54 minutes. The NRS Random Hero Award will be announced later.

In the race to Alaska, the first team to reach Ketchikan will be awarded $10,000 nailed to a wooden board. Second place will receive a set of steak knives. Others will simply have the joy of having finished.

Teams can be tracked online at https://r2ak.com. The website has more information about each team and the race itself. Daily updates will be posted.

Depending on the winds, the trip from Victoria to Ketchikan has been made in as little as three to four days, but the race doesn’t officially end until July 1, and many racers end up not making it the entire way.

The only required checkpoint for racers heading to Ketchikan is a stop in Bella Bella, British Columbia, a small community on Campbell Island off the Canadian coast.

Once in Ketchikan, there is an official party, although many racers often don’t stick around for very long.

Racers are left to their own devices for getting themselves and their boats home. Some sail back while others put their boats on the Alaska State Ferry and some have an engine shipped to them to power their boats for the return journey.

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