The Yukon 1000 (1600km) is the World’s longest paddle race where they allow stand up paddlers to compete as well, making it arguably the toughest endurance SUP race in the world. It’s no doubt that Bart de Zwart was among the few competitors on the start line, alongside race partner Ike Frans (Netherlands), racing for Team Starboard.
The Yukon 1000 is a self-supported race where competitors paddle for up to 18 hours a day with a mandatory break (one simply stops to make a riverside camp at the end of each day) between the hours of 23:00-5:00. Competitors race in teams of two for safety reasons because they possibly won’t see another person for several days due to the sheer remoteness of the event. Bart & Ike (Team Starboard) will hope to finish the race in about 8 days.
We, Team Starboard, (Bart de Zwart and Ike Frans) race on All Star 14’ race boards with lots of mandatory gear strapped on top. The mandatory gear consists of food for 11 days, satellite trackers, a sat phone, SUPSKIN drysuit, tent, sleeping bag, extra clothing, GPS, maps. The food takes up a big part of the space we have on the board.
We will be paddling 18 hours a day and have to stop before 23:00 – or get disqualified. We race from Whitehorse to the Dalton Bridge in Alaska and pass by the town of Dawson with a population of 1,600 people, and three smaller settlements along the way of only 50 people each. The rest is pure wilderness. 15 teams (in pairs) are racing this year’s event, of which 3 teams are in the SUP category. This is the first time the event organisers have officially allowed a SUP class to take part (a few years ago Ben Friburg and his wife pioneered the route on an inflatable.
The start of the race is the same as the Yukon River Quest that I raced earlier this month but then the backcountry becomes even more remote after we pass the gold digger town of Dawson, with more wildlife. We don’t see anyone – just bears, moose and other smaller wildlife.
Although it is a river we will need good map reading skills as the river has many islands and gravel bars which can slow you down if you take the wrong route. When the river becomes wide you can easily get lost or get into the slow or non-moving water. For some sections, we had to make our own maps because river maps don’t exist here. Ike and I will be checking every day with a short report of the day through satellite message.
This is going to be a true adventure and race at the same time. You can follow the race on Facebook and the follow our live location on the Race Tracker website.
– Bart de Zwart
Bart & Ike (Team Starboard) started paddling Sunday morning at 7:00 am (GMT-7) and will expect to finish on Monday, July 30th.