July 19, 2023
By Heather Mahady
Eric Pesty became a fan-favourite in the 2023 Race to Alaska (R2AK), embarking on the incredible 750-nautical-mile race singlehanded, for the second time as Team Pestou. The R2AK is a two-stage event, with a 40-mile qualifying race from Port Townsend, Washington to Victoria B.C. before entrants can start the 710-nautical-mile grind from Victoria B.C. to Ketchikan, Alaska. Pesty set a new singlehanded elapsed time record and placed third overall in the 2023 R2AK.
In 2022, Team Pestou’s race came to an abrupt end when his Corsair F-24 trimaran, GENEVA, among many others, suffered a race-ending log strike during a section of the race dubbed “The Strait of Georgia Log Massacre” by 2022 competitors, Team Vegemite Vigilantes.
GENEVA sailing wing on wing with sails from UK Sailmakers Northwest / Photo Credit: Eric Pesty
This year, in an incredible testament to endurance and fortitude, Pesty sailed GENEVA to the finish line in 7 days, 22 hours and 44 minutes. He used an inventory of UK Sailmakers Northwest sails and a custom pedal-to-prop manual propulsion mechanism to power GENEVA. This incredible pace was the fastest elapsed time for a solo participant in the eight-year history of the race, beating the previous 2018 record of 8 days, 4 hours and 16 minutes.
The R2AK is a self-supported race with no engines, no supply drops, and no safety nets. It is scored on elapsed time only, there are no division splits and no rating systems to equalize competitors. In most years, only around 50% of the race entrants manage to make it all the way to Ketchikan due to fatigue, injury, or vessel damage.
Although Team Pestou did not win the cash prize or the steak knives, he did win the hearts of many who followed along on his journey through the tracker and the Team Pestou social media posts. Pesty was gifted a prize as the first solo finisher from the first-place finishers, Team We Brake For Whales, in the form of a custom engraved butter knife.
Pesty was touched by the priceless piece of cutlery, and by the support from all the other participants and fans. He said, “I am really grateful to have had the privilege to share such an adventure, both physically with the amazing other crazy people I met along the way and “virtually” with all of you who cheered me on. I really did not expect what started as a personal challenge to grow into a shared experience with so many, but I am touched by it and hope you all enjoyed the journey!”