Gabriolans entered in 750 mile race to Alaska

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, January 6 2015

Quill Goldman, Mitch Burns and Jesse Bartlett of Gabriola will be taking on (at last count) 12 other teams in the inaugural 750 mile Race to Alaska (R2AK).

The course, set in two stages, stretches from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, Alaska. Any boat without an engine can enter.

The race is North America’s longest human and wind powered race with (currently) the largest cash prize, at $10,000. Second place, to quote the organizers, wins a set of steak knives.

The first stage will run from Port Townsend to Victoria, after which racers will have a brief rest period.

The second stage, up the Inside Passage, will run approximately 710 miles and other than waypoints at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, is wide open for racers to choose their own route.

Goldman, Burns and Bartlett, racing under the name of Team Barefoot Wooden Boats, are all alumni of the Silva Bay Shipyard School.

As Goldman says, “Having met through the common element of traditionally built boats over a decade ago...these guys are united in their love of the ocean, and in their determination to promote its stewardship and enjoyment. They believe the closer one’s experience with nature, the stronger their connection to it, and the less likely that it be taken for granted.”

Goldman, along with Gabriola boat designer Tad Roberts, was one of the founders of the Silva Bay Shipyard School Raids. He’s won it a number of times as well; two of those times were when he teamed up with Burns for raids to Quadra Island.

Goldman has thrown the gauntlet down to the other full course participants, stating quite clearly, “Since the last raid, I’ve had to be content with summertime cruising, and polishing my trophy, wondering if I’ll ever get a chance to compete for it again. 

“And now, a new race, a new challenge, a new prize and a new boat!”

The perceived remoteness of the race doesn’t seem to faze Goldman either.

Born on Marina Island he was, unavoidably, accustomed to boats at an early age.

 “My parents and the other members of the small communities of the Discovery Islands commuted between the neighbouring islands in a variety of rugged vessels, mostly wood, mostly old. 

“But there were a few new ones, and early experiences in those boat sheds and at those launchings left an impression in my young mind that would help shape the course of my life. 

“Most of my early schooling was a boat ride away from home - Marina Island to Cortes; South Read Island to Surge Narrows; Quadra to Campbell River.

“The main communication between homesteads on those outer islands was by VHF radio.”

So why enter a race such as the R2AK?

“Besides the obvious reasons that I love building rowing and sailing boats, I think this race will be a good platform to raise awareness about sustainable building practices, and promote stewardship of our local natural resources. 

“The course of the race will cover much of the route that the proposed tanker traffic would follow, and I think a sustainably built boat - powered by wind and muscle through the entire coast of BC, some of the most beautiful, resource rich, and endangered coast on the planet - is too good an opportunity to promote a message that I, and most people I know, feel very strongly about. 

“We’re looking for sponsorship for this race; so we can afford to build a winning boat.

“The winner gets the most time on the microphone. This race, with the help of our community and sponsors, will be an engaging way to promote a very important message.”

Tad Roberts company TR Design is among the sponsors listed for Team Barefoot, donating his time to design the Barefoot 5.8, which Quill is currently building in the Barefoot Wooden Boats shop. (Seen in photo to the left)

Other sponsors include Bob Wyche of Wyche Marine (metal fabrication services), Ocean Rodeo (dry suits), Ecopoxy (provides a peanut/soy based alternative to traditional petroleum based epoxies), Industrial Plastics (epoxy consumables and composite fibers), and Red Roaster Coffee is keeping the team caffeinated with a custom, high performance blend.

To continue to follow the progress of the team as they prepare for the race start on June 7, 2015, head to or find them on Facebook. Or drop down to Silva Bay, where Goldman has Barefoot Wooden Boats in the old Silva Bay Shipyard School building, about 25 feet from the winch house of the Shipyard’s 100 ton lift.