Kayak, Sailboat, SUP… ‘Race To Alaska’ For $10,000 Prize

The rules are simple for a new race this summer — captain a non-motorized boat 750 miles from Washington state to Alaska, self-supported. Choose your own route to get there.

Team 'Y Triamoto' to race a trimaran - one of many options on the course
Team ‘Y Triamoto’ to race a trimaran – one of many options for the course

The winner gets $10,000. Second prize is a set of steak knives. You can go solo or as a team. The type of boat is up to you.

The Race To Alaska (R2AK) is from Port Townsend, Wash., to the town of Ketchikan in Alaska. It starts this week, on June 4, 2015.

It has all the elements — uncertainty, natural obstacles, distance, navigation and equipment selection — to get us fired up.

Add the fact that it crosses some of the most beautiful waterways imaginable and this could be an incredible event.


Which type of boat will win? That really seems to depend on the weather. As stated by the race organizers, Northwest Marine Center:

We intentionally picked the start date because the winds are of unpredictable strength and duration. There is an ongoing debate on whether the optimal boat will favor sail, oars, or paddles. From the conversations we’ve had, usually sailors are scared of the rowers, rowers are scared of the sailors, and kayakers don’t seem to be scared of anything. Our best advice is to choose a boat design based on your skills, then go for it.


It’s a tortoise and the hare kind of race that should be interesting to watch, and it’s anyone’s guess what will show up at the starting line.

Choose Your Transport

Will there be any large multi-hulls? Racing yachts? Rowing sculls? Only time will tell.

Local knowledge should be a significant factor in this kind of race. Other than two checkpoints along the way, the route is up to racers.


Entry was $650 per team. About 40 teams have committed to the race so far, including a SUP board.

Should be quite an event, and we look forward to following along.

$10,000 in cash at the end
Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.