3-Man Seattle Team Wins Inaugural ‘Race To Alaska’

Team Excellent Adventure checks in from the Inside Passage during the "Race to Alaska" event. Photo by R2AK.
Team Excellent Adventure checks in from the Inside Passage during the “Race to Alaska” event. Photo by R2AK.

In the promotional video released for the first-ever Race To Alaska, a man walks past a sign in the woods saying “Welcome to Alaska.” He nails $10,000 to a tree and blows a fog horn. The premise was simple: no motors, first boat to Alaska wins.

Just before 1:00 p.m., five days and fifty-five minutes after leaving Victoria, British Columbia, the three-man crew of the Elsie Piddock sailed across the finish line.
“Cover your ears” cannon and cheering.

As Al Hughes, Graeme Esarey and Matt Steverson stepped onto Alaskan soil — in this case a wooden dock — race organizer, Jake Beattie was there to greet them with a handshake and $10,000 nailed to a piece of firewood.

Steverson says he’s not sure what will happen to the prize money.

“We didn’t do it for the money, bottom line. I don’t think we’ve talked about it.”

He says for him, it was all about adventure. The adventure included sleeping about two hours, twice a day, a constant drum of water against pontoons, and food.

“We ate a lot of fish, salmon and tuna. We did Israeli couscous, and pasta, and macaroni and cheese. Yeah, salmon macaroni and cheese was pretty good, you have to get the recipe from Matt.”
The men and the boat all are from the Ballard area of Seattle. Elsie Piddock, the winning carbo- fiber trimaran was borrowed from a friend, whose daughter named the boat after her favorite book.

“It’s an English children’s story about a young girl who skips rope and learns how to be the super duper rope skipper and eventually saves her town from the evil landlord. ”

Hughes says he is proud of the crew and of Elsie in particular, which he credited as their winning weapon.

Second prize is a set of steak knives, and has yet to be claimed. Team Por Favor is in second-place, but is still 200 miles away from the finish line in Ketchikan.