I am proud to be the only racer to complete the Yukon 1000 (2009) and the 1200-mile Ultimate Florida Challenge (2012). These competitions pushed my physical and mental capabilities to new levels. I love the thrill of being on the starting line of an epic event and pitting myself against everything nature can throw at me.
R2AK has been on my radar since I first learned of the event in January 2015. The organizers allow any size sailboat with any size crew to enter the event. It is extremely unlikely that a solo racer will ever win the overall title, but just finishing this grueling event is a major accomplishment. I watched the first race on the Internet – checking the progress of the competitors as they made their way northward. Roger Mann turned in an impressive performance in 2015 to win the solo division in 13 days, 1 hour.
After a busy 2016 that was filled with managing and working paddlesport competitions, I committed to being in Port Townsend, Washington for the 2017 R2AK on June 8th. I expect this race to be the toughest that I have attempted – even though the 750-mile distance is not the longest. First, there are the logistics of getting to the starting line. My home city of Orlando, FL is 3,170 miles from Port Townsend. I must either drive or arrange to have my boat and gear delivered to Port Townsend.
The first stage of the Race to Alaska starts with a 40-mile open water section to Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. That will be the longest crossing I have attempted. In all my previous races, there have only been a couple of times that I have not been able to see land. If I am battling headwinds and waves, it will be a very tough crossing.
The second stage is from Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, AK – 710 miles long. I will be paying close attention to weather forecasts and tidal charts. There are times when I may need to paddle / sail all night to take advantage of good conditions and there are times when I may need to wait in a protected cove for the tides or winds to be favorable. I will need to manage my food and water intake and know where I can stop to resupply. My sailing canoe has a removable seat that will allow me to sleep in the boat. This is a much safer option than going to shore where bears, wolves and mountain lions may be a problem. When you are a solo competitor, you cannot afford to make mistakes. Preparation, hard work and a little luck will lead to success in the R2AK. Ringing the finisher bell in Ketchikan will be one of the top highlights of my racing career.
Stayed tuned for more updates . . .