R2AK Update - June 9
The Race to Alaska is proving to be just as tough on boats and sailors as expected. Uncharacteristically strong winds (up to 20 knots dead on the nose) and the resulting brutal chop are discovering every weak link in the fleet, causing gear failure, DNF’s, even a dismasting. Two of the early race favorites, the 24’ carbon fiber catamaran of Team Turn Point Design, and the Paul Bieker designed proa of Team Pure and Wild, called it quits yesterday and headed back down south, both are safely back in port. Both boats were barely splashed before the race and it is not too surprising to see them out so soon with so little sailing and testing under their belts before the start.
Piper and Norton of Team Hexagram 59 was doing very well on their veteran Hobie 20 until a rock found them and landed them on the beach waiting for epoxy to cure. As of writing, their spot tracker is still at 0 knots. Several teams have made pit stops for repairs or simply to escape the conditions for a few hours and get some rest, finding it virtually impossible to sleep aboard.
The strong head winds have made it tough going for the human-powered contingent. Team Soggy Beavers in an OC-6 were fast at the LeMans start in Victoria and are still making excellent time, sitting in 8th place currently.
The biggest story so far is the little trimaran that could - Team Elsie Piddock of Seattle on a borrowed F-25c. They took the lead early on and are simply crushing it, making it through Seymour Narrows against the tide and the first check point, and are currently so far ahead that it looks like everyone else is sailing for the steak knives. They could stop for dinner in Port Hardy and still have a comfortable lead, however that would be a little too hare like. It’s still a long way to Alaska, and anything could happen.
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