Team Nordica slowly navigating its way to Ketchikan

Vancouver Island sailors taking part in second annual Race to Alaska

Team Nordica (right) sets off on Stage 2 of the Race to Alaska.

Team Nordica (right) sets off on Stage 2 of the Race to Alaska.

The epic journey of a lifetime continues for Team Nordica in their quest to conquer the Race to Alaska.

Team Nordica is Courtenay’s Brian Croll and longtime friend Ryan Wegwitz of Victoria. They are in the process of navigating the Inside Passage to Alaska in a 750-mile race that began June 23 in Port Townsend, WA (Stage 1, 40 miles to Victoria) then resumed June 26 (Stage 2, 710 miles from Victoria to Ketchikan).

Competing in a heavily modified, Canadian made, 1979 Nordica 16 sailboat, Team Nordica battled lack of winds in the early going but is enjoying the journey nonetheless.

“If the Team Nordica Facebook site says anything, they haven’t lost their sense of humour,” says the team’s land crew spokesperson Abbi Sproul.

“They have wind and are planning on checking out the next pub along the way at the north end of Lasqueti. I Googled it and lucky for the other pub patrons there are coin-operated showers there.

“I tried to warn (Brian) the front half of his group of boats had slowed, but he explained those boats are fighting with a current and not getting the same push of wind as Lasqueti blocks them from it. This is such good news as they didn’t intend to enter a rowing race,” Sproul told The Record.

No motors and no outside support are allowed in the race, only wind or human power can be used to get participants to Alaska.

For this reason Team Nordica fabricated a removable rowing set-up to the boat, complete with a custom, quick-release, carbon-fibre oar system.

The Vancouver Island crew hopes to complete the race in two to three weeks, while sailing/rowing 24 hours a day when possible. First place is $10,000US, while second place boasts a set of steak knives.

In last year’s inaugural race, 35 teams started and 15 finished. This year, 65 teams started and on June 30, 38 were still on the water.

On the morning of June 30, Team Mad Dog Racing hit the finish line well ahead of the other vessels. The three-person crew sailed a 32-foot catamaran to victory in three days, 20 hours and 13 minutes.

That same morning, Sproul reported the intrepid Team Nordica was coming up the northwest side of Texada Island, with a light wind of 3.2 knots.

Each boat is equipped with a GPS tracking device, where race fans can follow an individual boat’s progress online at R2AK.com.

Team Nordica’s Fb site is updated often and it is:

r2ak 2016 Team Nordica. There are also regular updates on the Fb site: race to Alaska by northwest maritime centre. You can see all the vessels’ locations at: tracker.r2ak.com

The official race website (r2ak.com) has a detailed rundown on Team Nordica. Noting both sailors are in their 40s, the backgrounder states in part:

“While their boat is a slow one, and their demographics might be a few birthdays from what our friends in the biz would call ‘target,’ Team Nordica reps the spirit of the R2AK: gumption to spare, everyman boat, thirst for adventure, and a desire to go past the edge of everyday life for the cathartic hoo-rah of pushing body, soul and boat all the way uphill to Alaska on whatever craft sings to your fancy.”

 

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