Brothers Overcome Extreme Conditions To Win Race To Alaska

Jun 17, 2017
Originally published on June 16, 2017 2:24 pm

Three brothers from Massachusetts have been declared the winners in this year’s treacherous Race to Alaska. Navigating extreme conditions in a 28-foot sailboat, it took Tripp, Chris and Trevor Burd four days to travel 750 miles from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Burd brothers decided to take part in the race after their father’s death, and had quite a few adventures along the way. Here & Now‘s Robin Young checks in with the Burds about beating out their competition by just six minutes.

Interview Highlights

On the final leg of the race

Tripp: “The conditions got pretty challenging towards the end. There were some really big weather systems going through. So you’re sailing through the night with overhead waves and crazy winds, so it’s a little bit reckless at times, and they pushed insanely hard through the end and closed a big gap, so the morning of the last day we see them on the horizon about equal with us, and it just turned into a match race from then on.”

On finishing the race

Trevor: “You know, it’s funny, we stepped off the dock and we were talking afterwards, and we asked the question: ‘What did we talk about for the last four days? What did we do?’ And it was almost all racing all the time, which is — I think that says a lot about who we are as people, that all we want to do is go out there and win.

“We didn’t know we’d won until we crossed the line. It was amazing, that last 12 hours, 24 hours, of just having that other boat right next to us and just pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing. And just a relief that, ‘OK, we did it. We can relax. We can stop working really, really hard. We’re finally here and, man, I’m just looking forward to a shower.'”

On competing in the race after their father’s death

Chris: “I think it’s safe to say that all of us definitely were thinking about dad quite a bit. So it was just a fantastic opportunity for us to hang out as a family as well.”


On favorite moments from the race

Tripp: “Going through Seymour Narrows with the dolphins was amazing. It’s a point of the race that’s known for being so treacherous, and when we sort of realized that we had luck on our side, and then this pod of porpoises coming through with us and playing with the boat as we blast through this area that had been such a threat on the horizon, that was pretty incredible.

“And then just actually having fun sailing with my brothers, that was something we’ve never done before, and the second to last day of the race, we had been getting really beaten up in some tough waves and weather, and tucked in behind an island to find some shelter and just found this one stretch of really flat water with big wind from behind, so we had the spinnaker up and [were] going just as fast as the boat could go. And it was one of those moments where we all look at each other and are like, ‘OK, this is pretty awesome. We’re in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from anything, and having some of the best sailing of our lives.'”

More Photos

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit