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'The Race to Alaska' coming to Kenai theater

Courtesy of Race 2 Alaska

Later this month, a few dozen teams of brave boaters will race the 750 miles from Port Townsend, Wash. to Ketchikan without any outside support or motors to help them along.

It’s called the Race to Alaska and it’s back this year after a pandemic hiatus. This year, 38 teams are racing, including one team from Talkeetna.

The race is not for the faint of heart. Its organizers say it’s like the Iditarod of the sea.

But now, anyone can follow the brave participants over the course of one race from the comfort of the theater. "The Race to Alaska” film is making the rounds in Alaska cinemas this summer and will play at the Kenai Cinema for a week beginning Friday.

James Hornstein, of Soldotna, saw the film for the first time when he was screening movies for the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod, Mass.

Hornstein also programs films for the Anchorage Film Festival and encouraged director Zach Carver to submit the movie there. It played in Anchorage 2020 and secured an audience favorite award.

Hornstein said that's for good reason. The documentary follows racers along their intense and often funny journey through the Inside Passage. The first place winners of the race get $10,000 and the second place winners get — strangely — a set of steak knives.

“You can’t explain it properly," Hornstein said. "It’s something you actually have to see.”

And there's one main race rule: no motors. "It’s all sail- and self-propelled," he said.

Some boaters take sailboats or catamarans. There’s one who does the trip on a paddleboard and a team that attaches bicycles to their boat to paddle it along.

Hornstein said it’s those racers that make the movie so fun.

“If you want to be a vicarious adventure seeker, this is your movie," Hornstein said. "It’s just such a fantastic film. If you like seafaring adventures, if you like great documentaries, you’re going to love this film.”

You can watch “The Race to Alaska” at Kenai Cinemas between June 3 and June 9. There are four showings a day andtickets are available online.

The 2022 Race to Alaska, meanwhile, kicks off June 13 in Port Townsend.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.