It’s been two years since the Yukon River Quest last made the 715-kilometre voyage from Whitehorse to Dawson City. In 2020, it was cancelled because of COVID-19; in 2021 it was because of high water levels — especially around Carmacks.
Not to be deterred, the Yukon River Quest organizers are already planning for the 2022 paddle. Registration for the “Race to the Midnight Sun” will open on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. Yukon time.
“We are looking forward to it but there is a little bit of trepidation,” said River Quest president Peter Coates. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper registration and there’s still a level of uncertainty with COVID-19.”
Because there are still several unknowns, Coates said there have been a few changes to registration. Most notably, at first glance, is the dates.
Nov. 1 is when the “big boats” voyageurs and C4s (four-person canoes) can register. A week later, tandem boats can put their names down and the following week, registration will be open to solo boats.
“The last time we did registration we got hit with a tsunami of registration,” said Coates. “There were a couple of issues with credit card processing. I don’t anticipate that happening again but I don’t want to be dealing with that tsunami so we’re opening registration gently.”
International teams can sign up for the 2022 race, as they could in 2019 when the “tsunami” of registrants happened.
“We filled up within four and a half hours,” said Coates. “The rate we were taking registration fees in was spectacular. I want to stem that lag a little bit.”
When it comes time for people to register, on their respective day, they will find the registration fee will be different — this is again because of the uncertainty.
“We won’t be taking the full registration fee like we normally do,” said Coates. “We don’t want to be in a position of taking people’s money when there is still uncertainty. We will be taking just the waitlist fee which is $50 in November.”
In February, Coates said the River Quest board will reevaluate where things are at and then ask for the full fee.
For teams that don’t have their own boat, they won’t have to pay the rental fee upon registration.
“Normally, you aren’t allowed to rent a boat from us until you are fully paid, that has been relaxed,” said Coates. “If you’re on the waitlist you can rent a boat, normally you reserve a boat by paying half the fee.
“I’ve changed that so you only have to pay five per cent of the boat rental to secure the boat – at least until February.”
Since it’s been two years since the race has been held, Coates suspects spots will fill up quickly.
“We are living in very strange times,” said Coates. “But, I would expect there to be a lot of pent-up demand because the race hasn’t taken place. Lots of things haven’t taken place. We should be getting more people.”
Because of the expected demand, Coates said they will be allowing more teams to participate.
“We’ve increased it from 125 to 150,” said Coates.
The race is open to international teams because travel restrictions are being relaxed, said Coates. Things could change so if the government requires it or just recommends it the race will follow that.
That means participants must be double vaccinated.
“The current COVID-19 regulations require us to require vaccines of everybody in the race,” said Coates. “So, we will be requiring vaccines.”
To sign-up for the 2022 Yukon River Quest, people can visit yukonriverquest.com. For solo paddlers, they will need to show they have the experience needed to complete the race before they can register.
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com