The inaugural Race to Alaska (R2Ak) starts on Thursday (4th June)!  As we explained in our earlier blog post, we’re sponsoring the team Turn Point Design, which consists of Brandon Davis and Nigel Oswald, so we’re very excited about the race start.

For those of you who’ve not heard about the race before, it’s a new endurance boat race that’s going to be big on adventure and small on rules.  The 40 teams that have been brave enough to enter will battle it out over 750 miles from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska.  The entrants have been free to choose whatever watercraft they want with the only rules being that there are no engines or support teams. This means there will be a great variety of boats on the start line using sail, paddle or pedal power (or a mixture).  One of the teams has even entered with a stand up paddle board!

First prize for the race is $10,000, the runner-up gets a set of steak knives!  So what was Turn Point Design’s motivation for entering? We caught up with team member Nige Oswald, who told us, “We have both spent a good part of our lives on the water and felt like it was time for an adventure!   It’s also the first time this race is being run and there are only so many opportunities you get to do something for the first time. The challenge, amazing scenery and excuse to spent a lot of time on the water where pretty significant factors too!”

Team member Brandon Davis owns a composites tooling and fabrication business called Turn Point Design based in Port Townsend and so the team decided to custom build a boat for the race. They designed and built a multihull sailing boat which is light and small enough to be propelled easily when using human power (in this case pedalling) and also has a small cabin to offer some protection.

We asked the team what they thought the greatest challenge of the race will be.  Nige revealed, “From a strategy perspective it will be the tides and currents, there are some crazy narrows along the route where currents can run in excess of 10kts and create all kinds of water disturbances so these will need to be planned around.   From a human perspective though it will be the long hours sailing or peddling, the cold, wet and physical challenges when the weather kicks in.”

It’s been a busy time for the team - building a boat and preparing for the race through fitness training and studying the likely weather and currents on the route.  There’s also been the important issue of finding the right race provisions.  The team will be using a selection of freeze dried foods during the race, which they have tried and tested but they also experimented with some bacon-and-cheese flavoured crickets, which were “surprisingly edible!”

And of course, close to Eco Power Shop’s heart is the question of power on-board for the race.  Nige told us, “Between navigation, running lights for running at night and safety equipment like bilge pumps, we need to make sure we always have energy on hand.   Solar is the obvious choice as its light weight, takes zero thought or energy to engage and is always on when the sun is up.   As we head north and are getting close to the longest days of the year, we should be able to maximize the amount of charging time. The Solbian All-in-One solar panels are a great solution, especially on smaller boats as you literally plug in a couple of wires to the battery, there are no extra charge controller boxes to take up space and the installation is incredibly fast.  Combined with the efficiency of the panels themselves, we are thrilled with the solution.”

We wish the team lots of luck for Thursday and a safe trip to all the teams!  We can’t wait to see the pics of the start line.

In the meantime, please check out our full race-to-alaska-pre-race-interview with team Turn Point Design.