PORT TOWNSEND — Team We Brake For Whales reached the checkpoint at Bella Bella, British Columbia, on Sunday, ahead of Team Tres Equis in the Race to Alaska.
Twenty-six teams were still racing to Ketchikan, Alaska, having left Victoria on Thursday.
As the first team into the checkpoint, We Brake for Whales is “the statistical odds on favorite for the $10,000 nailed to the piece of firewood” that is the first-place prize in the race that began a week ago in Port Townsend, according to the narrative on sponsor Northwest Maritime Center’s R2AK Race website at https://r2ak.com.
“Prove us wrong (yes, we’re talking to you, Tres Equis),” the narrative continues.
“It’s still anyone’s race.”
The second-place prize is a set of steak knives. No other prizes are awarded in the 750-mile race.
Vessels can’t use machine power and teams are not allowed to pre-arrange help along the way, but they can take advantage of whatever services may be available along the route.
The human-powered boats include kayaks, rowboats and a stand-up paddleboarder.
At this point, the first teams are expected to arrive in Kethikan on Tuesday. Racers have until July 1 to cross the finish line.
We Brake for Whales overcame a more than 10-mile deficit in a day and half, according to the maritime center.
Team members are Jeanne Goussev, Evgeniy Goussev, Maisie Bryant, Remy Lang, Andy Kleitsch, Lindsey Lind, John Guillote and Nikki Henderson of Bainbridge Island, pedaling a Custom Lyman Morse 40.
Conditions were milder than normal in the Johnson Strait overnight, according to the maritime center.
Soloist Team Pestou out-sailed the pack for two days before turning in for some sleep, the maritime center said, and by Sunday was back in the race.
Team Mojo sailed through Seymour Narrows then bowed out because of the weather forecast, while Team Honblower retreated early Sunday after suffering rudder damage.
Teams can be tracked in real time on the race’s website, 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.