Salt Spring team set to race to Alaska

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A Salt Spring Island crew will be among 49 teams competing in the sixth Race to Alaska (R2AK), a 1,389-kilometre race where no motors or supports are allowed. 

Teams will make their way from Port Townsend, Wash. on June 13 and push to be the first to arrive in Ketchikan, Alaska to nab a first-place prize of $10,000 U.S. Team Pturbodactyl of Salt Spring is composed of John and James Tulip, Terry Bieman and John Hillier racing in a Corsair F-31R trimaran. 

The R2AK is the longest human and wind-powered race in North America, race organizers explain, and race teams must use all their “physical endurance, saltwater know-how, and bulldog tenacity” to race the 750 cold water miles to Ketchikan.

The race’s first stage is The Proving Ground, where teams have 48 hours to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and make it to Victoria. Stage 2, To the Bitter End, starts on June 16 and has teams make the 710-mile trek from Victoria to Alaska. For the first time this year, teams can either make their way to Alaska via the inside of Vancouver Island waters or out of the Juan de Fuca strait into the Pacific Ocean.

A Salt Spring team took part in the last R2AK in 2019 and came in 13th on the final Stage 2. McGuffin Brothers Racing, composed of Callum, Cianan and Finn McGuffin and Duncan MacDonald, was the youngest team in that year’s event. John Tulip took part in the 2017 R2AK with Chris Tulip, Roellen Gillmore and Rohan Gillmore, finishing in sixth place.

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