WA360 racers are 24+ hours into a run that has had a lot less wind than any sailors would have hoped. The human powered boats are crushing it, and the sailors are getting a serious workout on their various propulsion systems. For the most part, it’s fun. Kind of…

If you’re just tuning in, we’ve been doing some feed-style posting as we get updates from racers doing the new WA360. As we did yesterday, we’ll add to the feed as stories come in from racers throughout the day, so stay tuned.

To begin this one, I want to take a moment to tip my hat to the beastly accomplishments of the current leaders, none of whom are on sailboats.

I admit it. I don’t know much about the human-powered racers in the WA360, and even less about doing a marathon adventure race in a kayak or rowing boat. My general ignorance made me under-appreciate what they were taking on before the race started. Well after the first day and night, I have more respect and admiration than I can calculate. It makes me recognize the sail-tinted lens through which I viewed previous R2AKs.

These first 28 hours or so have been an absolute tour de force in perseverance for everyone. That effort has been a lot more productive, however, if your boat was designed to maximize human-powered performance. Understandably, my contacts on the course have been sailors, and let me tell you, rowing or pedaling a sailboat around the clock and through the night leaves sailors feeling… a bit salty. Generally, they are staying positive, but no sailors seem to be having a whole lot of fun on the oars or the pedals.

I can’t tell you what it’s been like for Bend Racing’s two-person kayak, or Wave Forager’s rowing shell, or Boogie Barge’s pedal cat. I can only tell you that the sailors keeping in touch from the course (and this one at his desk) are equal parts jealous and seriously impressed. Resilience, strength, stamina… Hats way off to these humans doing amazing things under their own power with very little rest.

As we look into day two, variability seems to be the name of the forecast game in the south Sound, but as teams work their way further north and the day wears on, it looks like a northerly should settle in, perhaps even getting fairly stiff in the evening hours. Time will tell, but I’d expect a little more legging out from human power teams for a few hours, and then the beginnings of a consolidation this afternoon. The big and fun question is how much? How much will the sailors close the gap? How much will the human powered boats need to sleep? How much can I refresh the tracker? I’m keen see how it unfolds, and expect you’re feeling the same!

A very very good reward to be sailing for Mustang Survival’s Team Ocean Watch. Left to right: Emilie Van Vleet, Karl Krüger, Dagny Krüger. Photo by Emilie Van Vleet.

Mustang Survival’s Team Ocean Watch, 6:52 p.m.:

The Mustang/Ocean Watch crew have been pretty quiet today as they pedaled furiously. I finally got a note, and an image off them sailing and smiling. Yeah. Good to see both of those things. Stay after it! Team member Emilie Van Vleet sends the following message:

Finally sailing. Launched under Tacoma Narrows. Hit 15 knots. Pedaled all day against current, so that was a great reward.

Sending it under the Narrows on plane! Photo by Emilie Van Vleet.
Man is it good to be off the bikes, and better yet sailing for Team Gulls on Buoys. Photo by Jordan Hanssen.

Team Gulls on Buoys, 6:41 p.m.:

Got a series of fun videos from Jordan Hanssen of Gulls on Buoys. They are ripping along under sail again, too! Here are the videos, one when they are jib reaching and seeing a rainbow, and another after they’ve put the spinnaker up. Most important to the race, Jordan says:

We are working our way up under the Narrows. Just put out The Whomper and a half dozen of us sailboats look like we are making it to Colvos with good tide.


Sail Like A Girl making progress under sail alongside Ruf Duck. Photo (click image for attached video) by Lisa Cole.

Team Sail Like A Girl, 6:12 p.m.:

A brief snapshot (above), but it’s still such fun and a relief to see sailors sailing! Here’s a quick window into Sail Like A Girl’s Megles 32 reaching along and pacing with the Farrier F9R, Team Ruf Duck. Just a quick note from Lisa means another psyched sailor with no time to chat. That’s good news. She says, simply:

Looking back at Narrows Bridge. Kite is up.

Leaving the Narrows behind. Northward, and fast, for Team Sail Like A Girl. Photo by Lisa Cole.


Suddenly epic. Alex and Bart from Team Off The Rails finally sailing and ready to send it. WOOT! Photo by Alex Simanis.


Team Off The Rails, 5:22 p.m.:

Two photos and one word from Alex Simanis on Team Off The Rails’ Wilderness 30… The images and the length of communication tell us one thing. At long last, it is time to sail. No time for much less. Get it! From Alex:

Breeze on in Olympia. Photo by Alex Simanis.


Team Gulls on Buoys, 4:21 p.m.:

I heard from a very chuffed Jordan Hanssen a moment ago. They have been… wait for it… sailing! And they are also very happy to report that they’re around the mark and have begun the long trek northward. Jordan writes:

We’re about a mile from the mark in Olympia. We got a gust, rounded the mark and damn near sailed out of Budd Inlet. Then it was back on the bikes with intermittent sailing for about 2 hours. In the last 15 minutes, we ran the spinnaker and hauled ass. We just doused it.

I asked Jordan how it felt to be off the bikes and whether there were any ceremonial offerings when they rounded the mark. He replied:

Our bikes are quick, but the seats are rough. Everyone’s ass has been taking a beating. Getting off is a hell of a treat. We have been running 3 half-hour shifts. No one has slept more than 40 minutes at a time. The spinnaker run was great but it looks like we are back to pedaling. We lost two hats, but that’s it for the sacrifice (I’m slathering on the Sol Sunguard).

It was pretty dull up to the mark. Then it got interesting. That’s the way of this spinnaker. Our captain, Tim, calls it “The Whomper”. We were just thrilled to be sailing.

Team Sail Like A Girl, 3:54 p.m.:

I just texted briefly with Lisa Cole again, who — along with the rest of the Sail Like A Girl Team — has been just floored by the outpouring of community support and enthusiasm down in the South Sound. The Sail Like A Girl team has been a source of inspiration to so many for years now, and it’s pretty cool to see them reciprocally inspired! She says:

It’s been a lovely day from a community standpoint. We have had friends wave from various beaches, a paddle boarder brought us cookies, and a kayaker brought us a bottle of Prosecco. We’d still like more wind and less adverse current, but we are feeling good.

Sail Like A Girl’s new friend Mary came out to support them in Olympia. Photo by Lisa Cole.

We had a visit from our new friend Mary. We met her in Port Townsend, and she came out to say hi in Olympia.


Off the rails sailing under the narrows about 10:00am this morning. Photo by Alex Simanis.

Team Off The Rails, 1:42 p.m.:

Heard from Alex Simanis and the Off The Rails crew, and I really appreciated their positive attitude! Their human power system isn’t one of the better ones, but they are just slogging on and they don’t seem too bothered by it. As they continue south, they have even gotten to do a little sailing. Alex had some interesting things to report about the possible incoming weather down there. Here’s his update from the Wilderness 30:

Passing the prison on McNeil Island. Photo by Alex Simanis.

We had a really nice sail through the Narrows this morning, and now we’re on the oars once more. We’re just passing the prison on McNeil right now. It looks like wind may be coming in, probably a little southerly, which would be nice. There are a lot of thunderstorm clouds building, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. It’s hot and the air is stagnant, like everything is going straight up. I’d say the system/thermals are moving through Nisqually reach… it looks that way anyway.

The threatening cloud bank building south of the Wilderness 30. Photo by Alex Simanis.

Last night, we pretty much rowed all of Colvos. We’d get little moments of breeze and we’d put a kite up and it would feel good for a couple of minutes. Then we’d get suckered into a jibe, and would never get moving again… we’d just start going backwards. So we decided that anytime we needed to jibe, it was better just to take it down and get back on the oars.

We’re definitely not the fastest paddlers. We wish we had SUP paddles. It’s a bit of a struggle. We’re doing 1.9 knots right now. We get a lot of 1.5s. If we see 2 knots, we’re really happy. We’ve seen some 0.6s and 0.1s too! Each of our crew is taking turns on the oars for as long as we feel ok about it. I just did about a half hour. We think we’re going to still do a lot of rowing, so there’s no sense in killing yourself. 

Boat owner Bart doing his stint on oars. Photo by Alex Simanis.

We anchored at 6:00 a.m. this morning — right between Gig Harbor and the Narrows — and got a little rest and some sleep. We waited for maybe an hour-and-half for slack, then a nice southerly filled and we sailed right along the beach. We were under the Narrows around 10 a.m., and found nice eddy along the beach there too. We rowed in 10 feet of water for while, then got a jib up and could actually sail through.

We’ve got Canal Rats nearby. We sailed by them earlier, and they just pedaled past us again. The F28 from Lake Pend Orielle is right in front of us. We’re also near the Dash 34, and Magpie [the F27 out of Colorado]. I don’t think anybody has done anything dramatically amazing in terms of tactics or navigation. But certainly other human power solutions have been more effective. The surf ski passed us like we were standing still. The trimaran in front of us has pedals and oars, and Santa Cruz 27 has twin pedals — each have been impressive. The Canal Rats passed us not long ago, and they’re probably 150 yards in front of us now. On the other hand, it only took two tacks to catch them when the wind was up.

The flat conditions make coffee hour a comparative cinch for Off the Rails crew member Erdogan Kirac! Photo by Alex Simanis.

Our spirits have been pretty high, but when it is so flat, it is tough. It was damp, but a beautiful, night. The boat is doing well. We’ve got good solar power and everything is going good.

One exciting thing is that we get to try out our bitchin’ porta-potty today. It’s an electric flush model made by Thetford. A couple of guys on the boat work for a camper van building company in Hood River, and they put them in all the high end Sprinters. It’s been the talk of the morning.



The end of the line for Team Sailor Jerry’s Kids. Photo by Andy Cross.

Team Sailor Jerry’s Kids, 11:29 a.m.:

I just had a long call with Andy and got the following report about their difficult night and even worse early morning. He and the team are hanging in there, considering, but it’s a bummer to have to pull the plug. They’re keeping their heads on straight about it all, though, and have no regrets at this point — about racing or about retiring. Here’s what he had to say:

It was a hell of a night. Between Blake Island and Colvos Passage we had a few northwesterly puffs and we even put the kite up around Blake. Then it switched to a light southerly and we did some short tacking on the northwest corner of Vashon.

Sailor Jerry’s Kids actually did a little bit of sailing last night around sunset. Photo by Andy Cross.

On our boat, we had two watches; and when on watch, we rotate every 10 minutes on the pedals. I was on the first watch with Julia and we were pedaling hard, pedaling hard. Whenever we were off the pedals, we were frantically trying to trim to eek out a little boat speed from the mostly nonexistent wind. Pretty soon, it just got glassy. It was so calm you could see the reflection of the stars on the water. We were in full-on pedal mode and our pedal setup is not amazing — we are sailors, and don’t want to pedal the boat. But we kept at it.

After 4 hours, the others came on watch and continued pushing down Colvos. Out goal was to make it to Gig Harbor before the tide switched. And we really hustled to try to get there. At 4:30 in the morning, we were 2 miles from Gig Harbor, and…. “Clunk.” The starboard pedal got wobbly and then was gone into the water. We had a bunch of spare parts — spare drives and chains — but we didn’t have a spare pedal.

A sinking feeling. Literally. Photo by Andy Cross.

We knew the tide was about to switch and we were about to be in a massive amount of current. We managed get the boat over to a mooring ball in front of someone’s house. I swear, 2 minutes after we caught the mooring ball, the tide switched and it was ripping.

We start considering options. The best plan we talked about was getting into the harbor, then having someone jump in the water and swim to shore with their clothes in a dry bag. That person could dress on shore, walk to the bike shop, and hope to get a replacement pedal. We couldn’t get into Gig Harbor until the wind came up and/or the tide switched, like 6-7 hours. We guessed that by the time we got in there and maybe got it fixed, we’d miss the next tide window at the Narrows. So we figured it was going to be a 24 hours delay or more.

We deliberated about that decision for about a half hour. No one wanted to be the person to say, yeah, let’s call it. Every way looked like it, it either wasn’t going to be feasible or it wasn’t going to be safe. The swimming plan wasn’t really safe with water temp, currents, and questionable places to get ashore.

But frankly, our biggest safety concerns were going to be what happened before we get into the harbor to start the fix. If we couldn’t pedal, we were at the mercy of the current. We were worried about the commercial shipping and barge traffic. We didn’t want to be where we couldn’t get out of the way. We had been passed by tugs with barges last night in Colvos Passage and we had been able to get out of the way, but were like, “Whoa, too close for comfort.” On top of that, Gig Harbor isn’t the most friendly entrance and exit under sail even if there was wind, and we didn’t want to run aground. And we couldn’t call for a tow because we couldn’t have outside assistance.

In the end, we’re doing this for fun, and we’re not trying to win the America’s Cup. So, we threw in the towel. We gave it everything we had. We had fun. We had a good start. We had a really awesome day yesterday and last night was just hard…

When we did R2AK on this boat, we’d be on the pedals for maybe an hour and then we’d get some breeze. It was more of a back and forth thing. Yesterday, we did 8-10 hours of sustained pedaling. We had done a lot of pedaling in R2Kk because it was a light year, but nothing as sustained as that.

And as ever with boats, this wasn’t the only thing to need a fix underway. I had to fix forestay on the fly too; we almost lost it.

“There’s not a whole lot of making way.” Photo by Andy Cross.

The going was just brutally slow. The team on the Beneteau 40, Old Salts, we were with them by Blake Island last night. When we were returning home this morning, they were still in Colvos — like 12 hours later. There’s not a whole lot of making way. It’s something for anyone considering these races to think about. If you don’t dial in a pedaling or rowing system that can consistently get you 3 knots, it’s going to be really hard. And it has to be something that is comfortable for everyone to use.

One of the best things is that we saw the leaders when we were sailing back! When we saw Team Bend Racing, we were hooting and hollering and cheering them on. They are KILLING it! They must be going 4-5 knots in that kayak. It was really cool to see them go by. The were right up against the shoreline paddling smooth and looking good. Huge props for all those human power boats. I give everyone on the race course a lot of credit, but especially those human powered teams — good on ya, good work!

Team Gulls on Buoys, 9:07 a.m.:

I heard from Jordan Hanssen this morning with an overnight report. Seems like their human power system is hanging together and providing reasonably good propulsion.

Under the Narrows at 1:30am. Photo by Jordan Hanssen.

So far, so good. Nothing more broken. Our bikes are quick but the saddles are crushing our crotches. No wind for a while, but the stoke is high. We made it under the Narrows bridge at 1:30 a.m. Also, I lost a toe nail. No big deal. We’re getting close to our turn around.


Team Sail Like A Girl, 9:32 a.m.:

Got quick note from Lisa and crew on the Melges 32 this morning. If you saw her video update you can see that they’re stying positive, while also feeling the effects of the long night on the pedals. This is what she texted:

Team Boogie Barge passes Sail Like A Girl, going opposite directions. Human power is the best power in these conditions. Photo by Lisa Cole.

Just passed Boogie Barge. Of course they are going the other way! We biked through the night. We had about an hour of sailing, and we are back to biking. The South Sound is beautiful, and we’ve had a few local boats come out to say hi. It is such a wonderful community.


Something’s missing… Photo by Andy Cross.

Team Sailor Jerry’s Kids, 5:04am:

I woke up to this bummer of a text from Andy Cross and the Sailor Jerry team on the Santa Cruz 27. A fuller download from Andy is forthcoming. But here’s the gist.

Welp, we’re stuck. We pedaled all night and then around 4:30 a.m., a couple miles before Gig Harbor where we planned to wait out the big morning ebb, our starboard pedal fell off. We’re out. Drifting towards Shilshole on this monster ebb. Super bummed.

Here are a couple of reports that came in late last night:

Team Off The Rails, 11:24 p.m. on 6/7/21:

Alex Simanis: Flat as f**k! But beautiful out.

Elishia Van Luven driving Sail Like A Girl’s Melges 32. Light wind, but still smiling! Photo by Lisa Cole.

Team Sail Like A Girl, 6:59pm on 6/7/21:

Heard last night from Lisa Cole last night. She said:

GZero in the house! We were sailing. Now we’re back on bikes. We had some laughs and some creative engineering (driving from the bikes!). All in all a good day, but hoping Mother Nature grants us a little more wind tonight.

Sail Like A Girl’s G0 genoa. Photo by Lisa Cole.