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The inside passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial. It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush that the Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.

It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

You, a boat, a starting gun. $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter. Last year 37 teams were accepted and 21 finished. Graham Shaw was 1 of the 21 and he shares his story.

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