A Salt Spring team racing in a trimaran met a rapid and disappointing end to a no-engine race that stretched from Victoria to Alaska.
The team, made up of 75 per cent Salt Spring Islanders and one Vancouverite, signed up to take part in the Race to Alaska (R2AK), a solely human and wind- powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska. Team Pturbodactyl was composed of John Tulip, John Hillier, Terry Bieman, Graham Harney and the Corsair F31R trimaran they were racing in. The trimaran, and John, had previously partaken and finished the 750 coldwater mile race to Alaska in 2017 in 13th place.
Pturbodactyl made it through the first stage of the race, the so-called “proving ground” from Port Townsend, Wash. to Victoria, finishing fourth on June 13. Of the 49 teams racing, one trimaran team capsized and another trimaran’s mast came down amidst the large standing waves in Stage 1.
On day two of Stage 2, “To the Bitter End,” Tulip and his crew were according to the race’s field reporters one of the three fastest teams whose races came to an end as a result of logs in the water. “Team Pturbodactyl was first, hitting a family of would-be 2x4s with enough force that it damaged their amas and endangered its connection to their main hull,” an R2AK field report stated. The ama is the outrigger on the trimaran that provides stability to the vessel. Pturbodactyl were forced to detour to Gibsons and bow out of the race on June 17.
“The boat’s in getting fixed and we’re hoping it’ll be back on the water in a couple of weeks,” Tulip reported. Luckily, none of the crew were injured in the collision.
“It was a disappointing end to the preparation and all the work that went into it,” Tulip said.
The team spent around nine months preparing the peddle drives, preparing the boat and the final push of race logistics with moving the boat to the U.S. and securing provisions.
According to YouTube channel Sailing Tips, the wet spring likely contributed to the amount of logs in the water.
The R2AK is the longest human and wind powered race in North America and one which Tulip, who has parttaken in many area races, calls “a great race.”
“The idea of the race, the way that it’s organized, the cause that it’s for,” to support Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center, and the people it brings together all combine to make this a very special event.
“People from a huge, wide range of experience come to do the race. A lot of them are really experienced . . . a wide range of experience from sailing through rowing,” he said. “It’s a really interesting race from that perspective, you see a lot of interesting people, you see a lot of interesting boats out there.”
Vessels include rowboats, sailboats, kayaks and rowcruisers.
For the first time this year, teams could choose whether to make their way to Alaska past the inside of Vancouver Island or out of the Juan de Fuca strait into the Pacific Ocean. While Tulip’s trimaran is qualified to take this route, Tulip remarked that that stretch is a very serious sailing undertaking and looking at the weather for the race the decision was made to stick to the inside route.
A total of 17 teams finished the second stage of the race, with team Pure & Wild in a Riptide 44 Monohull sailboat nabbing the first-place prize of $10,000 U.S., and Elsewhere, racing in a Soverell 33 Monohull sailboat, coming in second with a prize of a set of steak knives as is the R2AK tradition. Team Fashionably Late, who said they named their team to indicate their approach to the race as well as to add in some humour, took third place.