PORT TOWNSEND — Team High Seas Drifters claimed the first-place title in the WA360 race Thursday afternoon, finishing seven minutes before the second-place winner, Team Fressure.
High Seas Drifters crossed the finish line at the Northwest Maritime Center dock in Port Townsend at 12:59 p.m. Thursday, followed by Team Fressure at 1:06 p.m., after embarking on the 360-mile race from Port Townsend at 6 a.m. Monday.
The teams pulled into the dock to cheers from more than almost 100 people lining the dock and shore.
They rang the bell to signal their end of the race.
The WA360 race is a 360-mile race. Fifty-six teams set out to tackle the course from Port Townsend to Olympia, up to Skagit Bay, Bellingham and Point Roberts and then back to Port Townsend.
High Seas Drifters, piloting a 30-feet-long Olson monohull sailboat, had a four-man team comprised of Shad Lemke, Mark Bostrom, Scott Wood and Jefferson Franklin from Wilsall, Mont., claimed the first-place championship belt and won the “Go Fast” category.
Team members were “tired and sore” after they arrived at the pier, but they arrived faster than they had expected. They had planned to take about seven days to complete the course, they said.
They were in high spirits, although they said they wished they had brought more gummy bears, More metal bushings for their pedal drives would have come in handy, since some broke during the race.
High Seas Drifters worked hard, Wood said.
“We worked as a team really good together,” he said. “We just kept putting one foot in front of the other.”
“It was fun dodging the whales and ferries,” Franklin added.
The team members recommended people exercise and train before attempting the human and wind powered race.
The team is willing to attempt the WA360 again if it happens, but wants to recover first from this year’s race and “would rather go to Alaska,” Franklin said.
The WA360 is a counterclockwise run replacing, at least this year, the Race to Alaska, also known as the R2AK.
That event, a 750-mile wind- and human-powered competition, starts in Port Townsend to finish in Ketchikan, Alaska; $10,000 goes to the winner and a set of steak knives to the second-place team. Its route crosses Canadian waters, so, with the border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the R2AK has been canceled two years in a row.
Team Fressure, piloting a 28-feet-long Merit monohull sailboat, had a four-man team comprised of Justin Hinchcliffe, Casey Pruitt, Andrew Bly and Charlie Boremann from Olympia claiming second place and winning the “Go Hard” category.
The “Go Hard” category is for large vessels that tend to travel more slowly than others.
Fressure lost about an hour and half having to repair a broken pedal, team members said.
Both teams credited the other for pushing themselves harder through the race as they competed to finish first in Port Townsend.
As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, eight teams had completed the race, with teams Lake Pend Oreille Yacht Club, Sail Like a Girl, Big Broderna, Mustang Survival’s Team Ocean Watch, Trickster and Gratitude coming in third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place respectively.
Updates on racers yet to finish can be found at https://wa360-2021.maprogress.com/.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]