Team Mahler Racing wins Yukon 800 by minutes in return of historic race

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 3:44 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - 2020 forced many long-time events to be put on pause, and for many self-sustaining, grassroots organizations, the loss of a year could have long-term effects.

The support surrounding the historic Yukon 800, which dates back to 1960, allowed the one-of-a-kind event to return to the waters in 2021 after two years.

Nine teams of three on handcrafted, 24-foot boats departed from Pike’s Landing at 11 a.m. Saturday to begin the 800-mile trek down the Chena, Tanana and Yukon Rivers to Galena and back to Fairbanks.

One the nine teams, six were able to complete what is known as the ‘ longest, roughest, and toughest riverboat race in the world’.

None were faster than Mahler Family Racing, taking ‘Lil Red’ down the perilous waters and completing the course in 12 hours, 34 minutes and nine seconds for victory, led by Captain Earl Mahler and crew members Gino Mahler, Earl’s brother and Julie Mahler, Earl’s mother.

Hot on their trail was five-time champion Tom Kriska and his boat Be-Bi-Bones, completing the race in 12:36:51, less than three minutes behind the champions. Tom was joined by crew members Shantille Kriska and 18-year old Lavin Kriska.

“There is a lot of danger, there are a lot of sweepers, it is a windy river, it can be windy, choppy, rainy and sometimes you get out to five-foot sloughs out there in the Yukon and a lot of things can happen,” Tom Kriska said ahead of the race as to why it is billed the toughest riverboat race in the world.

Sammi Lynn, led by Captain Joey Zuray finished in 13:23:47 for 3rd place, while Kateel’s Destiny, anchored by Bobby Frankson completed in 14:01:22. Good Humor, led by Hank Captain arrived in Fairbanks in 15:58:27, while the final team in was Beast of Burden, with Captain Clinton Huntingon, Raymond McCarty and Wade Fields on board. Beast of Burden spent nearly 22 hours on the course, arriving in Fairbanks at 8:16 p.m.

Having to scratch along the way were Secret Weapon, Wake ‘em Up and My Pleasure, which is led by the winningest competitor the sport has seen, 10-time champion Harold Attla.

“An old injury re-appeared in my shoulder going to Galena cranking on my old school manual lift,” Attla posted to Facebook. “I was mostly trying to make it back for my crew Albert Attla and Charles Erhart, the best crew, would go to the end with me.”

A historic finish to an historic event, with the nine brave teams keeping the legacy of the Yukon 800 alive.

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