The 21st annual Yukon River Quest kicks off at noon in Whitehorse on June 26 with a record field of 118 teams.
Nearly 300 paddlers from 13 countries and nine Canadian provinces and territories total will take part in the race down the Yukon River to Dawson City.
With just two mandatory stops — a combined 10 hours of time off the water — the 715-kilometre journey is one of the most difficult races of its kind.
This year’s possible race purse is $53,632 and the new prize structure means the top three male, female and mixed teams in each class will win a prize, provided the team beat at least one other team in the same class and finished within 25 per cent of the class winner.
Prize money is also awarded to the top 10 overall teams, any teams that break class records, the top First Nations team, the top Yukon male, female and mixed teams, the top senior team and the top young adult team.
“It is quite exciting,” said race president Peter Coates in a press release. “We have never had a field this big. We have real competition in depth in almost every class.”
This year’s field includes 40 tandem canoe teams (C2), 16 tandem kayak teams, 40 solo paddlers, 13 voyageur canoe teams, nine four-person canoe teams (C4) and 10 stand-up paddleboarders (SUP).
“The voyageurs, C4s and C2s look very competitive, as do the SUPs and the kayaks too,” said Coates. “But I think the race between the top three voyageurs and the leaders in the C4s and C2s will be what I’ll be especially watching.”
From the race start at Rotary Park in Whitehorse, teams paddle along Lake Laberge, on to Carmacks for the first mandatory stop, through the Five Finger Rapid and past Fort Selkirk to the next rest stop at Coffee Creek. From Coffee Creek, teams have another 170 km to the finish.
Race leaders are expected to arrive in Dawson the afternoon of June 28 and boats will continue to finish until just after 11 p.m. on June 29.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org