All-female team proud to 'Sail Like a Girl' in gruelling Race to Alaska

The eight women on the team called First Federal's Sail Like a Girl plan to rely on their creativity, skill and maybe a bit of duct tape to finish the gruelling Race to Alaska up the B.C. coast.

No motors are allowed on the sailboats, rowboats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards that take on the 1,200-kilometre race from Port Townsend, Wash. to Ketchikan, Alaska.

The entire route must be completed under human power or through wind in the sails. No motors are allowed.

Risks along the way include everything from freighters to grizzly bears.

"To finish this would mean that we have proven to ourselves that we can succeed," said Jeanne Goussev with Sail Like a Girl during the race's stop over in Victoria.

The team from Bainbridge Island, Wash., is one of the few all-female teams to attempt the unsupported adventure race. And their name has captured attention in the male-dominated world of boating, Goussev said.

"We are really hoping to inspire other women to get out there and tackle this and tackle the adventurous side of sailing."

The race is a test of physical endurance and navigational skill as teams pick their own route up the B.C. coast. Along the way, they face difficult tides, currents and squalls.

When the wind is not strong enough to sail, Sail Like a Girl will rely on pedal-powered propellers to move their Melges 32 sailboat. 

They have rigged up bikes at the back of the boat so they can hop on and pedal to run the propulsion system.

"We are looking to face whatever challenges we can and try to tackle them with our creativity and maybe a little bit of duct tape to get through," Goussev said.

Not everyone who enters the Race to Alaska manages to finish the challenging course. But Goussev says her team hopes to make it to Alaska in under two weeks.

"We plan to go 24/7 and really push each other and push this boat so that we can achieve that ringing of the bell on the dock in Ketchikan," she said.

They are also raising funds through their adventure for the Pink Boat Regatta in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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