the odd couple

odds 2odds 1If you had sat down with me two weeks ago to have an honest discussion about whether Tripp and Chris Burd would ultimately finish the inaugural Race to Alaska, I probably would have said no. A capsize, a broken mast, a leaky pontoon, going delirious from lack of sleep or just losing the will to continue were all extremely likely. The race itself messes with your head because even after you pass through the utter madness of Johnstone Strait, you’re not even close to halfway done. I underestimated their mental toughness!

Luckily for Team Freeburd, the winds and seas north of Vancouver Island were much more manageable for their ARC-22, and with a newly engineered reefing system they decided to go for broke and sailed non-stop for 3 straight days. Their dogged perseverance paid off as they snatched 4th place away from the weathered grasp of Team Kohara who were heroically keeping their craft afloat with plywood, duct tape, and one hand-powered drill!

Today we spent the morning organizing the boat here in Ketchikan and seeing the Burds off as they flew away back home just in time for a family wedding. We can only imagine the conversations they will have at Table 8 and the socially unacceptable amount of food they will eat. Chris said it best at breakfast this morning when, after inhaling his bagel, he described the challenge of catching up with their “large calorie deficiency.” The guys had prepared 7 days of meals for the trip, raced for 10 days, and had 3 days of food remaining at the finish line. We’re not nutrition experts, but we get the sense they didn’t eat enough!

odds 2odds 2odds 2odds 21Team Waterlust drives onto yet another ferry¬†tomorrow¬†to begin the return trek south. Meanwhile, the majority of the R2AK fleet remains at sea, battling their way north towards Alaska. We can’t wait for Roger Mann (Team Discovery) to finish, he’s doing the race on a Hobie Island Explorer. Or Team Mau who turtled their Nacra 570 in the straits but managed to right it AND keep racing after sleeping for days on a deserted “beach” using their sails for shelter. Apparently they didn’t bring sleeping bags. Or Team Grin who have been living on an Etchells for nearly 2 weeks which is about 13.9 days longer than anybody should spend continuously on an Etchells.

It is the bizarre combination of seamanship, bravery, and craziness that makes this event so appealing to us. In today’s world where it feels like headlines are only grabbed by the biggest, fastest, or most expensive ordeals, it is refreshing to celebrate the underlying energy that powers it all, the human spirit. It was a great honor to be part of this race, even from the sidelines with a camera in hand. I applaud the race organizers, the competitors, and everybody that tuned into the tracker to see how things would shake out.

Now to take all this video footage and try and turn it into something beautiful that tells a story that does this event justice. Hopefully we’ll be done sometime in July, stay tuned!

Patrick Rynne, signing off!