Team JD completes R2AK on after week’s sailing from Victoria - Salish Current
June 21, 2024
Team JD completes R2AK on after week’s sailing from Victoria
Toby Cooper

An exhausted but exuberant Team Juvenile Delinquents rings the Race to Alaska finish bell in Ketchikan on June 20, 710 miles north of the race start in Victoria, B.C. (Courtesy)

June 21, 2024
Team JD completes R2AK on after week’s sailing from Victoria
Toby Cooper

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Four island teens rang the traditional brass bell in triumph

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA – Team Juvenile Delinquents finished the Race to Alaska at 8:15 a.m., June 20, seven days, 20 hours, and 15 minutes from the start in Victoria, B.C. Parents and friends cheered them from the city docks as Dagny Krüger and her exhausted, elated, exuberant crew rang the traditional brass bell in a final act of triumph.

Team JD — Willow Gray, Bryce Lutz and Else Ranker, along with skipper Dagny; all hailing from Orcas and Lummi islands — finished fourth among monohull sailboats and eighth counting the slippery trimarans, and left many competitors days behind. 

Earlier in the week, Else had posted a mid-race Instagram update from Team JDproviding a window into a world where kids barely old enough to drive can race with the best.

From left, Bryce Lutz, Else Ranker, Dagny Krüger and Willow Gray celebrate the finish in Ketchikan — exhausted, elated, proud. (Courtesy)

“We are more than halfway through the course of this race,” Else said on her post, grinning ear to ear. “Yippee!”

Running in third on Day 4 behind the two largest monohull boats in the fleet, Team JD was roughly 200 miles from the finish and approaching the village of Bella Bella.

“We had some slight seasickness and trouble getting through Cape Caution,” Else continued on her post. Bryce, steering the boat through smooth seas, chipped in from behind her, but his words slipped away in the breeze. 

Else’s face turned sheepish. “It may have been me. I may have puked over the side. Who can say?”

Off Bella Bella, teenage goofiness surfaced on the next Instagram. Citing fake race instructions, skipper Dagny mocked the crew for failing to sail the boat down the village streets.

She later provided a cryptic text, complaining that Team Sailor Swift refused to share grilled meat from their BBQ.

“We are hoping we can catch some people,” said a more serious Else. “Who can say?”

Light-wind ‘opportunity’

Race organizers characterized this year’s light winds as “an opportunity to try out various rowing and pedal power systems” that all sailboats carry for auxiliary propulsion. “Seriously, though,” the committee said on-line, “it’s like the wind was cut off because we forgot to pay the bill.”

Even the normally fearsome tidal maelstrom at Seymour Narrows, they noted, simply “yawned.”

By the morning of Day 5, Team JD had passed all other boats in their under 30-foot size range, leaving only two larger monohulls — an Olson 30 named Natural Disaster and the 40-foot Stranger Danger — ahead.

On Day 6, Dagny and the crew made the strategic decision to tack west into the open ocean west of the 40-mile-long Banks Island, while the 27-foot Team Rocks the Boat, close behind, went east into Principe Channel. 

The gamble may have paid. The 11:00 a.m. race tracker showed Team JD sailing off Banks Island in northwest winds of 11 knots. Inside Principe Channel, winds were 3 knots less. But, as Else said, “Who can say?”

While Team JD was negotiating the split at Banks Island, the Canadian trimaran Malolo finished the race 148 miles ahead in Ketchikan. Although R2AK rules provide no handicapping — 40-footers, pedal boats and stand-up paddleboards all race as one diversified fleet — most race fans informally view the multihulls as running in a class by themselves.

Second overall to finish at 6:20 a.m. on June 18 was Brioanother trimaran, whose crew included Dagny’s father, Karl Krüger.

The R2AK is a mariner’s race, the senior Krüger said: “it will change your life forever.”

— By Toby Cooper

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