The Race to Alaska, aka R2AK, is an annual sailing competition where teams sail through 750 miles of narrow channels, logs, rip currents, open ocean and titanic swells from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska on pure wind power, no motors allowed. The race also doesn’t allow competitors to have outside support and team members that quit cannot be replaced. If you require help, the Coast Guard is nearly half a day away. It is so hard that nearly 50% of teams quit which makes this story even more remarkable.
Spike Kane, Zachary Tapec, and Bruno Hansen are all paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair-bound due to accidents. They made history by becoming the first team with all paralyzed members to take on the challenge. In their initial application, they didn’t even mention this because they felt it wasn’t something that held them back. They overcame a Le Mans style start down sets of stairs in the harbor where teams race to their ships. Their ship, the Alula was slower than the competition’s because of additional equipment and they overcame that as well. Although the team did end up being disqualified because one member had to leave and was replaced by a volunteer, Team Alula proved that anyone can do anything with the right amount of motivation, determination and heart.
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