WATCH: 44 teams from across North America are hitting the sea for a 750 cold water mile journey to Alaska. And as Monica Martinez reports, the no motor race is anyone’s to win.
The first boat cruises into the inner harbour, miles ahead of the competition.
The first leg of the journey is a test. Those that can make it from Port Townsend to Victoria in less than 36 hours, qualify for the real race to Alaska.
“This is a great event. It’s a huge opportunity and an adventure of a lifetime,” said “Bad Kitty” racer Bob Davies.
44 teams from across North America will compete in the 750 nautical mile journey. There’s only one rule – no motors allowed making it anyone’s race to win.
“The B.C. coast is really complicated, it’s a labyrinth. It’s got tides that go all around and make big whirlpools, and we wanted to set up the race in a way that leveled the playing field between big boats and small boats and no engines helped us do that,” said race founder Jake Beattie.
There are all kinds of boats – from high speed sailboats, to a sailing canoe and this year, even a paddle board.
“He’s very weight conscious, so he has a few days of dehydrated food, he has some water and he has a really rudimentary shelter system. His plan is to paddle and paddle with each tide and then go to sleep on shore,” Beattie said.
It’s a challenging race with unpredictable weather and numerous obstacles.
“I guess the concern for us is going off shift and being able to get rejuvenated because it is a total endurance race,” Davies said.
John Denny is volunteering this time around, but last year he competed grabbing third place in his 33 foot monohull.
He said he didn’t think he stood a chance, but extremely strong wings worked in his team’s favour taking out a lot of their competition.
“We have a tough little boat and that enabled us to muscle through it when a lot of the other boats had to run and hide in the bays, so it was a lot of fun,” he said.
Last year, only 15 of the 35 teams actually made it to Alaska, and five groups had to be rescued.
Racers leave Victoria’s inner harbour at noon on Sunday and are expected to begin crossing the finish line after a few days.