THE RACE TO ALASKA isn’t your average boat race. It is a race in which a one-person paddle board may compete against a $100,000 sailboat with a professional crew. There are only two rules: no motors and no support. If there is no wind to fill the sails, each boat must somehow be rigged to keep the vessel moving. It is North America’s longest human and wind powered race.

I asked Jake Beattie, executive director of the North West Maritime Center in Port Townsend, what inspired the Race to Alaska:

“I don’t think there is a more powerful experience than being out on the water on a boat by yourself.. We wanted to create an event that was about self reliance, about adventure, and this sort of just crystalized in a beer tent three years ago.

I’m flying up to Ketchikan with $10,000 nailed to a piece of wood waiting on the dock for whoever shows up first.. Oh.. and the steak knives. Second place gets steak knives. I have to remember the steak knives.”

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