SEATTLE — Several participants in the annual marine Race to Alaska had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard Monday when the waters the participants were competing in turned treacherous, overturning some of the contestants' vessels, authorities said.
Organizers behind the event said in a written statement that the occupants on seven boats had dropped out of the race by 1 p.m. because of rough conditions across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At least four contestants had to be plucked from the choppy waters by the U.S. Coast Guard or a vessel operated by race organizers.
Officials said all participants have been accounted for as of Monday afternoon after four people were pulled from the waters. It was not clear if anyone was injured during the contest.
The event is in its sixth year and draws contestants from all over the country with a goal of being first to get from Port Townsend to Ketchikan on a non-motorized vessel in a completely self-supported fashion.
The first-place prize is $10,000 in cash nailed to a block of wood.
The Race to Alaska is produced by the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA. A 501
“R2AK was created to spread excitement about the magic of on-water adventures that are human-powered and sail-driven and to remind us all that big adventure can be obtainable on virtually any budget,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center and co-creator of the event.
According to organizers, the first route of the leg is from Port Townsend to Victoria, BC, and known as the “Proving Ground,” because it is "close to civilization and within reach of a support system comprised of R2AK designated support vessels, the United States Coast Guard, and Joint Rescue Forces Canada.:
Organizers said some contestants were able to make it across the turbulent waters despite being buffeted by high winds and very chilly weather, but that four teams had to end their participation.
The participants that needed help were identified as: Razzle Dazzle, an Angus Row Cruiser, from Savannah, Georgia; B Team, a Weta Trimaran, from Forestville, Calif.; Runaway Redux, a C-Lark, from Palm Bay, Fla.; and Narwhal, a Farrier 32 trimaran, from Seattle.