UK Sailmakers helped put the second and third place finishers on the podium in the 2019 Race to Alaska. The 750-mile course runs from Port Townsend, Washington north to Ketchikan, Alaska, where the first-to-finish prize is $10,000 nailed to a plank and second place earns a set of steak knives. TEAM PEAR SHAPED RACING sailing their custom 34-foot trimaran DRAGON took the steak knives and third was Nathalie Criou’s TEAM SHUT UP AND DRIVE, a Beneteau Figaro 2. Both boats sailed with UK Sailmakers Titanium® upwind sails and UK spinnakers.
The Pears suffered four collisions with logs on the course in their battle with the elements. The worst log strike was on the last night when they went from nine knots to sudden full stop. It instantly shook everything loose in the cabin. More than the stowables, it made a boxer’s nose out of the bow of an ama and jarred loose what was left of their electronics, leaving them to fly their high twitch bird blind for the last 100 miles. The log was every bit of huge, spanning all three hulls and lifting the boat high and dry before it chose to roll under. This was in Hecate Strait; luckily it wasn’t on their gust-fueled night run that pegged their boat speed record at 27 knots and 15-foot waves.
TEAM SHUT UP AND DRIVE was locked in a tight battle for third with last year’s race winner SAIL LIKE A GIRL for most of the race. The two women skippers battled it out down the course, both sailing 32-foot monohulls — a Figaro 2 vs the Melges 32 that had won the 2018 R2AK.
Before the race, Criou said she switched to UK Sailmakers’ Titanium sails because she was tired of dealing with sail failures. After the race Criou said, “Thank you for your support. We gave it all we had and the sails did a great job – the main’s beautiful and we had a fair bit of upwind, the entire first leg was pretty much one big tack. We finished 3rd at behind a Shock 40 and a fast 10 meter trimaran (both of which we would have beaten had we sailed under a rating system.”