When you first learn about the Race to Alaska (R2AK), you quickly learn this really is not your grandfather’s yacht race. As the regatta’s website states: “No motor, no support, all the way to Alaska.
The physical endurance, saltwater know-how, and bulldog tenacity to navigate the 750 cold water miles from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska.” What you have to understand, however, is that “no motor” doesn’t mean “no power.”
Power? What power?
Simply put, anything short of an engine or motor. These sailboats are (of course) rigged with sails; but many have oars. Some have paddle wheels or propellers...powered by humans! The race starts in June 3, in Port Townsend and goes north...largely taking the inside passage to Alaska as centuries of native Americans and gold miners did. This was the first and now is North America’s longest wind & human-powered race. And there’s a cash prize!
You, a boat, a starting gun. $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter. Last year 37 teams were accepted and 21 finished.
Teams...did you say teams?
There are currently 30 teams registered and their names are not to be believed! https://r2ak.com/2019-teams-full-race-participants/ One of the UK Sailmakers powered teams is Team Shut Up and Drive from San Francisco. Sailing a Beneteau Figaro 2 will be Nathalie Criou, Satchel Douglas, Neil Roberts, Tanguy De Lamottem, Justin van Emmerik, Robert Dieterich, and Jeremiah Edwards, Brett Bova. Seen in the photo below, Nathalie’s comments follow:
“We have entered Race to Alaska (and Oregon Offshore Week and the Swiftsure as primer races and to learn about the Pacific Northwest) and we are equipping our Figaro 2 with new sails and a twin pedal drive to compete in the event.”
Being ready – Anticipating
“Thanks to UK Sailmakers, we will be leaving with a pretty-full sail inventory for a Figaro 2 as we anticipate encountering pretty much every kind of condition: no wind at all (pedal drive, no sailing) to light air (UK Sailmakers’ genoa and mainsail, or a bowsprit with an asymmetrical spinnaker), to medium air (UK genoa and mainsail and large symmetrical spinnaker off a pole), to heavy air (reefed UK mainsail, jib, and perhaps even Storm Jib or a small symmetrical spinnaker). And, if the wheels really come off, we’re also looking into a Trysail.”
Why did you select UK Sailmakers’ sails?
"After a year of racing and four genoa failures, we were looking for a high-performance sail that would survive blustery San Francisco conditions and give us a balanced sail plan with our big mainsail. We needed a jib that can stay up into the 20- knot range, but still have shape in lighter air. We couldn't be happier with our new UK Sailmakers Titanium genoa."
"Oregon Offshore Week, Swiftsure and R2AK have significant upwind portions and given its size, the mainsail on a Figaro 2 has a huge influence on performance. Our challenge is that we need a sail that will be light, maintain its high-performance shape as long as possible, and still be solid enough to allow us to race in very heavy weather conditions. The compromise between performance and durability is one of the hardest to achieve in sailmaking, and the combination of carbon and Endumax is really exciting.”
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