Saturday, July 13, 2024

Team readies for Race to Alaska

| June 4, 2023 1:00 AM

The race for Alaska is set to begin for Dogsmile Adventures.

A team from the therapeutic sailing nonprofit, which is based on Lake Pend Oreille, is among the teams set to take part in the Race to Alaska, North America’s longest human- and wind-powered race.

The race begins Monday in Port Townsend, Wash., heading to Ketchikan, Alaska.

"I am grateful to be setting sail with these good men — Jay [Taft], Gabe [Mills] and Jon [Totten] — on this fine craft," team member David Kilmer said in an email. "The race starts at first light June 5, bound for Victoria, then, with any luck, on north to Ketchikan."

Organizers describe the race this way: “No motor, no support, all the way to Alaska, with the physical endurance, saltwater know-how and bulldog tenacity to navigate the 750 cold water miles.”

At an event showing a film on the race, "The Race to Alaska," at the Panida in late April, Totten said the team was excited and ready for the race.

“We are stoked for the opportunity to join this epic challenge, and are super excited for the support from our community,” Totten said.

On the race website, the pair said success in the race is achieved the minute they leave Port Townsend aboard the Mahana.

"The barriers between people and sailing all float away as soon as the last line is cast," the team said on the site in response to the question: Forget the 10K or the steak knives. What does success look like for you and your team?

"We’re working to bring sailing to under-resourced populations. We, as individuals, are not under-resourced. The least we can do is show up and sail/pedal our [backsides] to Alaska. Winning is doing the thing. That said, each of our boats could use a good steak knife. And it would be really nice if all three hulls are still in formation and pointy at the finish."

In defending their Corsair F-27 boat's hull, the team said it is a hall of fame sailboat for a reason.

"It was designed by a Kiwi, and they seem to know a thing or two about sailboats," the team said. "It’s fast, seaworthy, and durable. It goes in and out of the water at any old boat ramp in under an hour. It has an actual cabin that you can sleep, cook, and use the head in."

While it’s a reasonably affordable craft by boat standards, that isn't what makes their vessel special.

"[M]ost importantly Mahana has that spark in her fiberglass and aluminum soul that humans who go to sea know to be real," they added. "She wants to go fast and she takes care of her crew."

To follow the Dogsmile Adventures team online, go online to, or on Instagram at


(Photo courtesy DAVID KILMER)

The Manhana, Dogsmile Adventures's entry in the Race to Alaska, is pictured during a recent excursion.