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Victoria sailor sets solo record in gruelling Race to Alaska


Victoria’s Eric Pesty was greeted by a jubilant crowd when he completed a remarkable feat on Friday, coming third overall in the 1,200-kilometre Race to Alaska and setting a new record for solo sailing participants.

While most competitors are part of a team, Pesty sailed the gruelling race solo.

Jesse Wiegel is in charge of this year’s Race to Alaska and says Pesty’s accomplishment is remarkable.

“The danger present when you are alone on a vessel at sea… you are mere inches from going through the veil to the other side, said Wiegel.

Despite the dangers of doing it alone, Pesty persevered — braving rough seas for nearly eight days after leaving Victoria, while completing the seventh annual event upon arrival in Ketchikan, Alaska.

“Doing a race this gruelling all by yourself is phenomenal,” said Molly McCarthy, a spokesperson for the race.

There are few rules for the race. Contestants leave Port Townsend, Wash., and have 36 hours to get to Victoria before journeying onwards from there to Ketchikan.

The key rule is that all vessels must be propelled by wind or human power only.

"There needs to be a place in the world where people can test themselves with very little safety net," said Wiegel.

Twenty-nine teams left Victoria's Inner Harbour on June 8. By Monday morning, seven boats had completed the race, nine had dropped out and 13 were still on the water.

Pesty is the only finisher so far this year to do it alone. He barely slept, catching naps while his boat sailed on, he said.

The race is North America’s longest human- and wind-powered race.

It attracts sailors, kayakers, rowers and even paddle-boarders.

The winner gets $10,000. The second-place finisher gets a set of steak knives. No other awards are given out.

“Anyone can get $10,000, but there's only seven sets of those steak knives in the world,” said Wiegel.

The real prize is the satisfaction of finishing.

“We think absolutely anyone who completes this race, they win,” said Wiegel. “They’ve won whatever it is that they're racing for. People are here racing for all sorts of reasons.”

Competitors have until July 1 to finish. Top Stories

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