The Northwest Maritime Center is preparing to launch two races that are expected to present challenges that will test the resolve and seaworthiness of its participants: the human-powered Seventy/48 …
The Northwest Maritime Center is preparing to launch two races that are expected to present challenges that will test the resolve and seaworthiness of its participants: the human-powered Seventy48 and the inaugural Washington360.
Daniel Evans wears the crown of “race boss” for the events organized by the Northwest Maritime Center.
“I’m responsible for everything,” Evans said. “Up until recently, I was the only one who was permanently on staff for the races. I co-founded them, I direct them. I’m in charge of everything race-related.”
In the realm of developing reasonable safety protocols and contacts, Evans said race organizers have learned invaluable lessons from orchestrating long-range races like the Race to Alaska (R2AK).
“It’s risky business and it’s allowed kind of a blueprint in what to look for and who to talk to in order to prepare to keep it as manageable as possible, while still allowing people to take the appropriate risk for the challenge,” Evans said. “Race to Alaska has also given me a lot of insight into the type of people that do this race.”
And who exactly are the type of people who do these sorts of races?
Well, the sorts of people who compete in a 48-hour human-powered boat race that covers 70 miles, and then turn around and compete in a 360-mile non-motorized race through Washington’s most difficult marine areas the following day.
People who like a little challenge; folks like Karl Kruger and Lillian Kuehl.
Krueger will be competing aboard a stand-up paddle board during the Seventy48 and aboard a Melges 24 in the WA360. Kuehl will be rowing both of the races aboard her 18-foot rowboat.
Evans said the only consistency he’s found when making assumptions about which racers will do well and which ones will not is that he’s probably wrong. He’s surprised time and time again at who manages to pull ahead of the pack and make a name for themselves in the competition.
There’s only one thing Evans said he was sure of when it comes to sizing up the racers.
“Every one of these teams that show up at the start line, fully have the ability to finish the race,” he said.
The Seventy48 will begin in Tacoma at 7 p.m. Friday, June 4 as a fleet of solely human-powered craft attempt to cover the 70 miles north to Port Townsend in just 48 hours.
Each of the registered teams have kicked in $100 and the first boat to cross the finish line will head home with half of the total purse. According to the Northwest Maritime Center, 102 participants have registered to participate this year, placing the first-place prize at $5,100.
The more than 100 racers will be competing in several classes, piloting an array of vessel types including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, rowing shells, outrigger canoes and a variety of rowboats.
Participant classes are broken down into “Standing Up,” “By Yourself,” “Facing Forward,” and “Facing Backward.” A winner from each class will receive a prize of $1,275. Additionally, one of the pool of participants who completed the race will be selected at random to receive the Mustang Random Hero Award. The recipient of the Random Hero Award will take home a Mustang dry suit and $1,275.
The rules for the Seventy48 are fairly simple:
• No motors;
• No sailing;
• No chase boats, racers may not arrange for supply drops or any sort of assistance along the route, participants may stop to purchase items, but they may not arrange for personnel to be staged onshore to assist;
• No adding or changing crew along the way, crew members are permitted to leave the race, but a race official must be notified as soon as possible of their departure;
• Participants may plot their own course to get back to Port Townsend from Tacoma, with the exception of waypoints at Owen Beach and Port Townsend Canal;
• Participants may not enter vessel traffic lanes;
• Boats who do not cross the finish line by 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6 will be disqualified; and
• Portaging of boats is permitted but no vehicle may be involved, including bicycles.
There is also a general guiding rule for the race organizers in determining whether someone participating in accordance with the spirit of the race, referred to colloquially as “Rule 8.”
“If we decide it’s necessary to consult a lawyer to figure out if you are disqualified or not, you are automatically disqualified,” the rules state. “If you get cute and push the boundaries, we’ll bring down the hammer.”
Following on the heels of the Seventy48 — which finishes at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6 — the inaugural WA360 will get underway the following morning. Racing will begin at 6 a.m. Monday, June 7 and participants will have until 6 a.m. Monday, June 21 to complete the course.
The WA360 was designed as a substitute for the intensely challenging Race to Alaska (R2AK), which was canceled for 2021 due to international restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rules for the WA360 are:
• No motors. Similar to the Seventy48, the WA360 will not allow boats to use any motors while competing. While their use is prohibited, motors may be kept aboard the boat;
• No pre-planned support;
• No limit to vessel size;
• No crew limit; and
• Crew may not be added mid-race, however, they are permitted to leave.
The WA360 race course is expected to take its participants through 360 miles of some of Washington’s most grueling and challenging waters, including various tidal gates, the Tacoma Narrows, Deception Pass and the Swinomish Channel.
After departing the Northwest Maritime Center’s dock at Port Townsend Bay, sailors will chart their own course south to round the Olympia shoal in Budd Inlet.
From the wind-fickle south Puget Sound, sailors are northbound to their next objective: passing within one nautical mile of Skagit Bay’s Goat Island. From their transit past Goat Island, racers will make for Bellingham Bay to round the outfall buoy (identified by its yellow strobe which flashes in ten second intervals).
The next buoy rounding will take place off of Point Roberts (a bell buoy that can be identified by its red strobe, flashing in four second intervals). After rounding the Point Roberts buoy, racers will make a mad dash south to finish at the Northwest Maritime Center dock.
Participants will be categorized into three classes based upon their vessel:
• Go fast (racing sleds, catamarans designed for speed);
• Go hard (also known as the cruising class); and
• Human powered (paddle boards, kayaks, rowboats and the like).
To follow the competitors as they embark on the Seventy48, visit seventy48.com/follow-the-race/.
To keep up with the action during the upcoming WA360, go to nwmaritime.org/follow-wa360.