By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“That's part of our strategy, to not commit to doing it forever,” said Northwest Maritime Center Executive Director Jake Beattie after addressing the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
“We want it to continue to be a source of inspiration and something we can manage safely. If it evolves into just another yacht race, that's not something we really care about.”
Beattie, along with Race Boss Daniel Evans, addressed about 40 people at the chamber's weekly meeting at the Port Townsend Elk's Club.
“We started this race because we live in a pretty incredible place. We sit at the foot of this incredible passage all the way from here to Alaska,” Beattie said.
“The Maritime Center's job is to get people on the water, to celebrate the maritime culture in a spirit of adventure and discovery.”
Beattie said the first race in June 2015 got international press and crashed several servers. This year there will be participants from around the world.
“There are heroes among all of us. This race provides the opportunity for that hero to come out,” Evans said.
“No matter what your pedigree, no matter what your boat experience, if have the experience to stay safe, we were going to let you race the boat that you thought was a potential winner.”
The race, open to any boat without an engine, begins at 6 a.m. June 23 in Port Townsend with Ketchikan, Alaska, as the end.
The first stretch, to Victoria, B.C., is a qualifying leg, with the heart of the race beginning at noon June 26.
It is characterized as 750 miles of 50-degree water with no supply drops or safety net, although each boat will be electronically tagged and can signal for help if needed.
The first prize is $10,000 cash, while second prize is a set of steak knives.
While there is competition between the racers, it is eclipsed by a personal connection.
“Each team waited for the next team to show up. There was a real sense of camaraderie,” Beatty said.
“When [the second place team was] awarded the steak knives, they immediately turned around and gave half of them to [the third place team],” Evans said.
The sign up deadline for the race is April 15, with the signup packet available at tinyurl.com/PDN-race-application.
Applicants are assessed a $50 nonrefundble application fee.
If accepted, they pay $75 and $75 for each additional person for the first leg, or $650 and $75 for each additional person for the full race.
Last year's race drew 53 entries, with 16 finishing the race.
Currently about 40 teams have signed up.
Beattie expects around 60 but underestimated participation last year when “the night before we weren't sure if anyone was even going to show up.”
Beattie said the race has a maximum capacity but declined to give a number, saying “we have an unpublished limit but we aren't going to say what it is so we can change our minds.”
“It's really about people connecting with people and communities connecting with communities,” Beattie said.
“It's about sharing that adventurous hero spirit that exists in all of us.”
For more information, go to https://r2ak.com.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.