Jason and Drea Parks, along with their teammates, take off during the Seventy/48 race last weekend. (Photo by Elizabeth Tellez)

Jason and Drea Parks, along with their teammates, take off during the Seventy/48 race last weekend. (Photo by Elizabeth Tellez)

Parks endure challenge of Seventy/48

Despite paddling in circles part of the night, Oak Harbor’s Jason and Drea Park joined four teammates to place eighth out of 122 teams in the annual Seventy/48 race last weekend.

Participants in the Seventy/48 boat race were expected to paddle 70 miles from Tacoma to Port Townsend within 48 hours beginning at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 31.

The rules are simple, according to the event’s website: “No motors, no support, no wind. That’s right. Human power only. Pedal, paddle or row. We don’t care. It’s up to you.”

The Parks reached the finish line at 9:02 a.m. Saturday.

The time was 13 minutes longer than it took Drea Park and her team to complete the course last year, but the crew finished one spot higher this year.

Jason Park couldn’t compete in 2018 because he was on deployment.

The Parks are veterans of long distance races, but heading into last year’s Seventy/48, they had not attempted a race beyond 26 miles.

“This year was definitely more challenging,” Drea Park said. “The race started an hour and a half earlier than last year, (but) before we were out of Colvos Passage to cross over to Blake Island we were already paddling in the dark.

“As we headed toward Bainbridge Island we then had to deal with 10 mile-per-hour head winds, making the stretch of the course from Bainbridge to Kingston very sporty.”

After Kingston, they no longer faced head winds, but fog began to roll in. As a result, on their way to Portage Canal they encountered white-out conditions.

The team used a small compass and their phones to navigate their way out of the canal.

“There was one point where I had my husband’s phone pull up both Google Maps and the Seventy/48 tracker to see where (we were) located,” Drea Park said. “But because of the density of the fog, it was messing with the connection. Looking back at the data that my watch collected from the race, it showed us going in a few circles which killed our time.”

Rowboats took the top four spots, led by team Imua, which finished at 5:49 a.m., three hours and 14 minutes ahead of Parks’ team, Kikaha O Ke Kai-Tamatoa.

Kikaha O Ke Kai (Dream of the Sea) is the Tacoma club they represent. The Parks were joined in the boat by Ken and Tanja Kroeger of Bellevue, Brian Martin of Auburn and Kanai Hyde of Tacoma.

Kikaha O Ke Kai-Tamatoa finished eighth, second among those using a kayak.