After an eventful first day of the R2AK with winds reaching 50 knots causing broken masts, broken booms, capsized boats, rescued boats, and hypothermia, 9 boats were out of the race. They call the Port Townsend to Victoria leg the qualifying leg, but this was a little over the top. Nonetheless, there are still 34 boats in the full race to Alaska, including 13 that are less than 20’ long. Of this small boat contingent, there are 3 SUPs, 1 kayak, 1 canoe, 1 of our RowCruisers, a rowboat, a sailboat, 2 catamarans, and 3 trimarans.
The start of the second leg was far less eventful but still exciting. A SUP was leading the race for most of the day, at least until I went to bed. Not only leading the small boats, but all the boats! This includes racing boats of 30+ feet that regularly compete and clean up in other races. That’s the beauty of the R2AK, the weather can make a guy with a paddle on a SUP outperform the sleekest racing boat.
Indeed, the primarily human powered boats were excelling, with a canoe and kayak close behind. And a double rowboat, sized slightly longer than 20’ at 22’, might have been first if they weren’t hit by a powerboat as they were leaving the inner harbour. Bummer. But after fixing their bent oarlock, they were on their way, delayed but not deterred. A 19’ trimaran with a pedal drive system powered by Roger Mann was also out in front, travelling east of Galiano Island in the more open waters of the Straight of Georgia while the other small boats stayed within the more sheltered waters of the Gulf Islands.
Stay tuned for day 2; it should be an exciting day. It’ll be hard for the small boats to hang onto their lead much longer as the larger boats with crews of 2 and more will likely go throughout the night, and the wind’s bound to pick up at some point.
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At Angus Rowboats, our passion for adventure naturally draws us to the mystique of the Northwest Passage – one of the world's most captivating and perilous waterways. Historically, this elusive passage promised a shorter shipping route, spurring early navigators to fervently chart and struggle through its icy intricacies.
The summer of 2023 saw three audacious teams, including one using our very own RowCruiser boats, aiming to be the first to traverse NW Passage solely by human power within a single season. As the season concludes, we've chronicled these attempts, and catalogued past human-powered endeavors to navigate the Northwest Passage.