No motors allowed in boat race

NANAIMO – Sailors must reach Alaskan finish line under wind or human power.

Dave McCallum is packing his gear for the first-ever Race to Alaska

Sailors from Nanaimo and Gabriola Island will be among those racing to Alaska in a boat race in June.

Qualifying for the first-ever Race to Alaska is set for June 4 from Port Townsend, Wash., to Victoria. The main race runs from Victoria to Ketchikan, Alaska, beginning June 7 and $10,000 awaits the winner of the 1,207-kilometre, non-motorized boat race.

Team Y Triamoto use a seven-metre trimaran sailboat and for crew member David McCallum, it is right up his alley as a sailing enthusiast. He said it’s the chance of a lifetime.

McCallum and team don’t plan to stop, save for inclement weather, surviving on dehydrated food and sleeping in shifts. Fatigue could become a factor.

“That’s going to be a big deal, absolutely, but that’s why it’s an adventure race,” said McCallum. “If that stuff wasn’t an issue, everybody would be doing it.”

Wayne Gorrie, a founder of the Van Isle 360 yacht race, will also be in the Race to Alaska. His Team MOB Mentality will use an 8.5-metre trimaran, christened the Mail Order Bride. Success in the race will be dependent on weather and while that can be unpredictable, Gorrie said his team is prepared.

“What we would like to see is lots of wind – my boat is optimized for big winds,” said Gorrie. “Some boats are optimized for very light air … we’re not going to turn this into a rowing race however.”

“We’re not young jocks that can row 24/7 non stop. We will row, though, if we need to,” said Gorrie.

Quill Goldman, owner of Barefoot Wooden Boats on Gabriola Island, and his Team Barefoot Wooden Boats, will be joining the other teams in the quest to Ketchikan, but will be doing so in a customized 5.8-metre boat.

“It’s a bit of a hybrid, sort of a building technique that I’ve been using for a while,” said Goldman. “It’s got a plywood bottom and tree wood topsides, so it’s basically like a modern high-performance boat below the waterline and looks like a traditional boat above.”

The race rulebook isn’t thick, but boats are not allowed to have engines and racers must travel without the aid of support boats. They must also pass through two waypoints at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella.

For more information on the race, please visit www.r2ak.com.

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