The bosses at R2AK high command recently announced the return of WA360 next summer and that the Race to Alaska will now run on alternate years.

WA360 (pronounced Washington Three Sixty) is 360 miles of engineless, unsupported boat racing through the best, worst, and most diverse water puzzles Washington State offers. The race will start and end in Port Townsend, traveling counterclockwise through the waterways of Washington within spitting distance of dozens of Pacific Northwest communities.

WA360 debuted in 2021 with 56 teams who made the run in catamarans, trimarans, monohulls, kayaks, SUPs, surfskis, and some weird pedal-boat thing, all competing in one of three classes: Go Fast, Go Hard, and Human Power. The 2025 edition of the race will include a fourth class for youth participants.

Specifics of the 2025 WA360 race, including start date and route, will be announced at the Race to Alaska Blazer Party held on the Friday of Wooden Boat Festival in September in Port Townsend (then revealed online sometime shortly thereafter).

“WA360 is always a paper airplane’s throw away from a Puget Sound community,” said Jesse Wiegel, Race Boss at the Northwest Maritime Center. “It’s an incredible platform for your wildest on-the-water dreams. WA360 provides an accessible and exciting way to level up your nautical adventure game here in our own backyard.”

After the 2024 Race to Alaska, the race will assume a biennial (every-other-year) schedule, alternating with WA360. Race to Alaska will run in even years, and WA360 will run in odd years. The 2024 race starts on Sunday, June 9, 2024; the application deadline for 2024 is April 15.

Here’s the announcement from race HQ at the Northwest Maritime Center:

Dear adventure artists, tracker hounds, dreamers of terrifying dreams,

As you know, we, the cobblers’ children of Race to Alaska, pride ourselves on delivering an experience that’s as unpredictable as Johnstone Strait winds and makes failure but a tasty appetizer to triumph.

With that spirit in mind, we’re announcing the next evolution of our beloved race:

Starting now, R2AK is shifting to a biennial rhythm. Yes, you read that right: the ultimate test of will, skill, and grit will now grace us every other year.

Let’s be clear: 2024 R2AK IS ON. ‘25 is not. 2026 R2AK is ON. ‘27 is not. Understand?

Whaaat??? Whyyyyy??!? Listen up.

Inspired by legends of scarcity like the McRib and the Disney Vault, we’re embracing the power of deprivation, desire, and suspense. Here’s why it’s better:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Like storied quests of old, time between races will make for more excitement and anticipation as the jitters of race-detox set in. And with this brilliant and insightful adjustment to R2AK supply and demand, racer futures are trading high.
  • Dream a Little Dream of Me: For racers, this means more time to prepare, strategize, and cook up the gnarly contraptions that make R2AK a hotbed of ingenuity. For fans, it means growing your enthusiasm and perhaps planning your own journey to the starting line and beyond.

And best of all? The return of WA360.

By now you’re thinking—less racing? What the heck am I going to obsess over next summer? Settle down. We’re talking about more racing. WA360—the COVID-proof race that picked up R2AK’s slack in 2021—is coming back in 2025, and will alternate years with the Great Dash to Ketchikan.

Are you super mad about R2AK ’25? Want to call the Race Boss and give him a piece of your mind? How about you go work those feelings out at your pilates class and think about WA360 instead?

WA360 is a race from Port Townsend to Port Townsend, hitting Olympia, Skagit Bay, Point Roberts, and the San Juans—a rollicking counterclockwise slide through the waterways of Washington. Racers will contend with squalls, doldrums, commercial traffic, raccoons, marauding recreational boaters, and their own embattled decision making—Deception Pass, or Swinomish Slough? Bears are unlikely, but raccoons are near-guaranteed! Full details to come at the 2024 R2AK Blazer Party in September. For now, check out 15% more detail on the WA360 webpage.

R2AK 2024 is only months away—cherish it, then get your game face on for WA360 2025.

Both WA30 and Race to Alaska are projects of the Northwest Maritime Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Port Townsend, Washington, whose mission is to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

Note: Feature images courtesy of Jeremy J Johnson.