“We came, we saw, we conquered! OK not really….”
That opening line in the July 6 posting on Team Nordica’s Facebook page was Courtenay’s Brian Croll and Victoria’s Ryan Wegwitz way of announcing their retirement from the 2016 Race to Alaska.
The longtime friends were attempting to sail/paddle their Canadian made, 1979 Nordica 16 sailboat the 750-miles from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, Alaska.
They were just past Sullivan Bay near the northern tip of Vancouver Island (on the edge of the Broughton Archipelago) when their journey came to an end.
“Yes it’s true, we have retired from R2AK 2016,” the team stated on their Facebook page (r2ak 2016 Team Nordica). “The decision did not come easy but our bodies are completely worn down from rowing/exhaustion.
“As of Wednesday we were four days behind schedule, we have lost a considerable amount of weight, and for safety reasons decided it was best not to carry on.
“We literally rowed (Ryan mostly) 70 per cent of our way up to Cape Caution from Victoria’s inner harbour. Ryan even rowed us through both Seymour Narrows and Active Pass. Raise your hands if you think that’s nuts????
“We had never imagined there would be multiple days of no wind in both Georgia and Johnstone Straits. In fact nor did any other team we spoke to. Mother Nature was simply not on our side.
“As we left our anchorage this morning and said goodbye to our fellow racers the Bunny Whalers, we took a minute to look back on the craziness that has been our lives for the past four months. We have so many people to thank.”
The post continued: “Suddenly we were surround by porpoises jumping out of the water for 10-15 minutes. It was an amazing experience, watching them surround the boat, and at one point we figured one would end up inside the boat!
It was then that I looked up at the windex on top of the mast and noticed it was severely damaged. Sometime in the night a raven or eagle must have landed on it and fouled it. To fix it we would have to de-mast the boat, which meant the use of a dock etc…this made our decision even easier.
“And once again with no wind, Ryan like the champ he is, rowed us to Port Hardy for five-plus hours while we exchanged jokes back and forth. Yes we’re still friends, more so than ever.
“We … just wanted to let everyone know we are safe and sound and back on Vancouver Island!”
Team Mad Dog won this year’s race in just under four days in their three-person, 32-foot catamaran to take home $10,000. Runners-up Team Skiff Foundation Jungle Kitty earned a set of steak knives.
For more on the race, set sail to its website r2ak.com