Photo by Jessica Keller: Magnolia teen Sebastian Dougherty stands on his back porch overlooking the water, last week. This weekend, Daugherty and three other teens will embark on the Race To Alaska sailing competition.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Magnolia teen Sebastian Dougherty stands on his back porch overlooking the water, last week. This weekend, Daugherty and three other teens will embark on the Race To Alaska sailing competition.

Summer has not yet begun, but Magnolia teen Sebastian Dougherty’s schedule is already full.

The 18-year-old just graduated from Bishop Blanchet High School last week and has a trip to Italy scheduled for July 4.

Between then, Dougherty and three other Seattle teens are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime as they participate in the Race to Alaska, a 750-mile wind-powered boat race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska, which is the longest in North America.

Dougherty and his teammates, all longtime sailors with years of experience sailing and training between them, will set sail from Port Townsend Monday for the first stage of the race — a 40-mile, open-water sail to Victoria, British Columbia, which Dougherty describes as a sprint.

After a two-day break to make any repairs to the boat and prepare for phase two, the long-distance voyage to Ketchikan, Alaska, via the Inside Passage.

“It’s a lot more about your endurance, really, than going as fast as you can the whole time,” Dougherty said.

He said this will be the longest race he and his teammates have ever attempted, but they are excited for the challenge.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing how hard I can push myself and seeing what the limit is to my sailing,” Dougherty said.

His teammates are Nadia Khalil, 17, and brother and sister Enzo Dougherty, 17, and Francesca Dougherty, who are unrelated to Sebastian, but all are experienced sailors who bring their own strengths to the race.

Sebastian Dougherty said he was friends with Francesca and acquainted with Enzo Dougherty through the local sailing scene and the Corinthian Yacht Club and met Khalil after he was asked to become the fourth member of their team.

“We’ve become really close through the whole process,” Dougherty said.

Now, as members of Team Mustang Survival’s Rite of Passage, they are fast friends and the youngest team on record to participate in the Race to Alaska and one of 49 teams accepted this year. The team members will set sail on a boat they secured just for the race — a 27-foot Santa Cruz monohull.

Because their boat has no motor, the team’s progress is all dependent on the wind and the weather, with only stern-mounted pedal systems to aid in their progress in light air or unfavorable currents, according to a press release.

Sebastian Dougherty said, if the weather is good, the race could take seven days to finish, but they are anticipating up to 15. Rather than frustrating him, Dougherty doesn’t mind being dependent on the weather. Because that factor is out of his control, it makes the whole experience more relaxing and peaceful to him, he said.

“When you’re sailing, there’s no way around it, you’re pretty exposed to the elements,” he said. “A lot of your fate is up to nature.”

Dougherty said he and his teammates are prepared to see all types of weather on their trip, including rain and cold.

“The thing is, you can’t really expect anything sailing,” he said.

He and his teammates have put in plenty of work in preparation for the race, however. They have been practicing since last October, completing many day trips, sailing around the San Juan Islands, and one over-night trip. They have also sought the advice of numerous people in and out of the sailing community, including past participants.

Dougherty said when they set sail, they will each follow a rotating three-hours on, three-hours off sailing regiment and keep close track of how much water and how many calories they consume daily.

After they complete phase 1, Dougherty said they will be less strict about their schedule and take a day off on land if they need to or want, which is permitted as long as they don’t receive any outside help except for in an emergency.

Because this is the first race of this distance and caliber for him and his teammates, Dougherty said they harbor no illusion about placing first or winning any prize money.

“I think that’s a great thing about our team dynamic because once the race starts, we’re going to be really happy with whatever the result is,” he said.

That said, Dougherty admits finishing the race is their goal, and he would be disappointed if something broke on the boat that they were not able to fix and they had to pull out of the race early.

Between their experience and skills, Dougherty said he is confident they will finish, however. He has already become a stronger sailor since beginning race preparations, he said, including sailing at night, something he had never before done.

“I feel like I knew I was able to do it, but just to be able to see that I could do it was pretty special,” he said.

After the race, Dougherty said he is off to Italy and the University of Washington in the fall. He also plans to take some time off from racing.

“I think that race is going to be enough for me for a little bit,” Dougherty said.

People can follow Team Mustang Survival’s Rite of Passage during the race on Instagram @teamriteofpassage.