Racing to Alaska


by Colin Angus 6 Comments

Well, I've officially committed to the big race that everyone is talking about.  The NW Maritime Center in Port Townsend is launching its inaugural race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska.  The rules are simple – no motor allowed, and there are two waypoints boaters have to pass through on their way north – Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella.  And the winner gets $10,000.

The RowCruiserThe race has created a lot of buzz, and a lot of people are wondering what is the ideal design of boat to win the race.  Will it be a performance sailing vessel, a human powered vessel or some sort of combination of the two?  Winds are variable and calms frequent, adding more question marks to the discussion.

I will be doing the race with Steve Price from Oklahoma, and we will be using a modified racing version of the RowCruiser.  We’ll be posting pictures of the boat as we design/develop it through the winter.




Colin Angus
Colin Angus

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6 Responses

admin
admin

October 28, 2016

Hi Joe,
Initially, we were planning on making it exclusively a human-powered racing machine, aiming for the fastest time by human power. Marty Loken in Port Townsend has been doing a lot of research into the potential of this boat with sails, and his contagious enthusiasm has now got us fired up to use it as a hybrid sailing rowing vessel. It should offer a similar level of performance under sail to that of a nicely rigged sailing canoe which is quite reasonable.

When we planned on going by human power alone, we were planning on shrinking the boat down a bit to reduce weight and windage. Now that it will be sailing vessel, it will be advantageous to keep its present dimensions. We will be reducing the weight of the hull significantly by using lighter materials (normally a boat needs to be somewhat overbuilt to deal with the stresses of being bumped around on land, abrasion over beaches, etc).

The sailing rig will be a ketch-rigged design. There will be a lot of minor modifications to maximize performance. After Christmas, we will be commencing the build, and will be posting regular updates.

Cheers,

Colin

Joe Longbotham
Joe Longbotham

October 28, 2016

What are your Rowcruiser racing modifications? Different building materials and a sail, or a modified hull?

toolmanking
toolmanking

October 28, 2016

Dear Colin,

I currently paddle a Hobie adventure, with the mirage drive, it is fast as you use all muscle groups, legs and arms but it is a bit exposed as it is a sit on top. I like the idea of the row cruiser and want to build one. This summer I paddled around the Isles of Scilly but took the ferry over. I would like to row paddle myself over, so hence looking at the row cruiser, but I am equally intrigued by the idea of the R2AK but it is a bit of a leap.

My daughter now writes a full time health and fitness blog (Sophie King “100 healthy days”) She paddles with me sometimes and I would be intrigued by the strategy of the R2AK. Not sure we could enter in 2015 as we are resident in UK and logistics would be tough.

Would it be feasible to have a tandem Rowcruiser with the berth to get a few hours sleep in turns?

What is your idea? or is it top secret!

As an aside question; Do you think rowing the inside passage would beat a F31tri. I have entered the UK 3 peaks yacht race, sailing and fell running combined, no motors except to enter and leave harbors nearest to the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland, We had Pdosi sliding seat bolted to Arma hatches to row the tri if the wind dies. 2-3 knots possible but with the wind up to 20kts under sail.

I would be intrigued to build such a boat, even over here to go for a few coastal adventures here. Maybe start a similar race here. But it would be something else to do the R2AK.
Barrie Toolmanking

admin
admin

October 28, 2016

Here are some good forums with some of the discussions going on:

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?181193-Race-to-Alaska-2015!

http://racetoalaska.com/forums/topic/so-what-boat-design-is-the-right-one/

http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showtopic=159707

http://watertribe.org/forums/topic/race-to-alaska-750-miles

Karla
Karla

October 28, 2016

Besides following you, are there best sites to hear some of the “buzz”? No interest at all in racing this, love to listen in on the discussions.

admin
admin

October 28, 2016

Hi Barrie,

Yes, the RowCruiser is perfectly suited to row 24/7. One person can rest in the forward cabin while the other is rowing. One slight modification that needs to be made is to have a means of cinching the main hatch lid down from the inside, so the occupant can close it. Normally, when anchored it is not necessary to cinch it down down firmly since waves are not crashing over the boat. The shiplapped design of the hatch keeps the rain out if not cinched down onto the gasket, but not sluicing waves.

We initially planned on exclusively rowing, however, have decided to add a sailing rig to further enhance our performance. Winds are quite fickle through the Inside Passage, however, I do believe a high performance sailor would probably beat a solely human powered craft. We’ll be posting progress updates as our build commences in a few weeks. The sailing rig we use for the race will also be the same design (with any hiccups worked out) we’ll be providing specs for for those who wish to install a sailing rig in their RowCruisers.

Colin

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