British Columbia

Race to Alaska race won by Seattle-based team in 5 days, 55 minutes

The winning team reached Ketchikan, Alaska in five days and 55 minutes while many of the competitors are stuck in rough waters just north of Vancouver Island.

One crew had to be rescued by the RCMP off Port McNeil late Wednesday

Team Elsie Piddock won the Race to Alaska by travelling from Port Townsend to Ketchikan in five days and 55 minutes. (Graeme Essery)

A Seattle-based team has won the inaugural Race to Alaska after reaching Ketchikan in five days and 55 minutes and will take home a $10,000 prize.

"What we've just been through is an amazing test, but also a wonderful opportunity to see some of the truly wild places in the Pacific Northwest," said Graeme Essery, a member of Team Elsie Piddock.

"We were lucky to have a fast boat and a crew that had sailed together for thousands of miles."

The Race to Alaska is a 750 mile race from Port Townsend, Wash. to Ketchikan with competitors only using motor-less boats.

Right now the majority of the competition is stuck facing rough seas just north of Vancouver Island.

One crew had to be rescued by the RCMP off Port McNeill, B.C. late Wednesday.

Graeme Essery, member of Team Elsie Piddock, says the race was an opportunity to test himself in the wild Pacific Northwest. (Becca Guillote)

Essery says one of the few times he was really scared was when he was passing through that area.

"The seas were rough and it was blowing hard. Our primary goal at the time was to take care of the boat, take care of ourselves," said Essery. 

"I was really concerned about the boats behind us because we were pretty well prepared and some of those boats were purpose built for the race or built on a budget and there was no support."

Essery approached the race as a test against the elements and was prepared to cope with whatever the weather gods threw at his team.

"We wanted to see if this could be done. It was a great challenge and a great experience."

While Essery has completed the race, he is following the rest of the competition very closely.

"The real adventure for some of those people is yet to come. We have good friends who will be tested and so I hope they stay safe for however long it takes them to get home."


To hear the full interview with Graeme Essery, listen to the audio labelled Race to Alaska winner.

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