The “Lesser Known” Heroes of Race to Alaska

Kelsey BrennerAdventure Races, All, Volunteer Highlights

By Daniel Evans, Race Boss

For the first half of 2022, the Northwest Maritime Center has been putting out a beehive’s worth of activity: sailing and cruising camps, a solid finish to the first year of the Maritime High School, Regattas, block parties, harbor tours on our new(ish) 40-foot catamaran, and two world-class adventure races. None of it works without hard-working staff and generous volunteers. The Northwest Maritime Center’s success in providing engaging and provoking experiences for our community is forever and directly tied to the volunteer generosity of the community we serve. 

We try to find ways to celebrate the effort it takes to create this hive’s hum. Still, I wanted to spotlight two incredible people and the ridiculous amount of time, energy, and resources they put into this organization and helped us to pull off the Race to Alaska this year.

Jeanne Goussev’s relationship with the NWMC began by racing and winning the 2018 Race to Alaska as Captain of the all-women Team Sail Like a Girl. In the years that followed, she joined the NWMC’s Board of Directors, helped start the women’s race clinic—Race like a Girl—and, when she was unable to race in 2022, offered up herself, her husband, and the family’s 45’ Grand Banks powerboat to support R2AK’s media team for the first half of the month-long race.  

Peter Geerlofs, a retired local obstetrician and co-founder of the forward-thinking Revision Marine, has been on the NWMC Board for over 15 years. In three years of volunteering his vessel and himself to R2AK, this was his most ambitious effort. Leaving even before the race began, he and his co-pilot, Michael, traveled over 900 miles, capturing video, photos, racer interviews, and hosting the R2AK media team for much of that time. 

Both Peter and Jeanne believe in the Northwest Maritime Center at an almost cellular level. They have found ways to support the mission by offering the best of themselves to fulfill our organization’s deep needs. Jeanne even remembered how, during the long days and nights of racing, all she wanted was some treat—a bit of decadence in a race defined by austerity and scarcity—so she baked chocolate cookies to hand out to every team they crossed. Like all of our volunteers, Jeanne and Peter asked themselves how they could help and answered the call when the opportunity presented itself.

They are two of the many people who define success for the Northwest Maritime Center. Thousands of people have answered that call. It is impossible to adequately convey my gratitude, but maybe it’s unnecessary. Like others, Jeanne and Peter didn’t do this for me. What we were able to do together, we did for a belief and conviction—when we come together, we are stronger. What we achieve is more extraordinary, and as NWMC continues to inspire people to be better visions of themselves, we get to be that too. Thank you, Jeanne and Peter. You make us better.

Header photo: Peter Geerlofs’ boat, Seaducktress, by Rebecca Ross