PUBLISHED: 2:11 PM on Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Winslow to paddle Yukon River Quest race as group fund-raiser

Photo by Kathryn Winslow
  Bill Winslow takes a break after paddling to Goddard Hot Springs Bay during a recent round-trip training session from Sitka for the upcoming Yukon River Quest race from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, in late-June 2006. Winslow is using the race to raise funds for the Sitka Youth First Responders team.
SITKA - Bill Winslow will combine adventure with fund-raising when he competes in the Yukon River Quest to raise money for the Sitka Youth First Responders, the youth rescue team he coordinates for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

Winslow will compete in the solo kayak division in the 460-mile, 750-kilometer river race June 28 to July 2 from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

He said a couple of members of the Sitka Fire Department persuaded him to enter the race with them, then they backed out.

So Winslow decided to turn his race into a fund-raiser for the SYFR team.

The team is co-sponsored by SEARHC and by the 4-H program run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

Winslow and the two SYFR co-sponsors are in the process of starting a similar youth rescue team for Prince of Wales Island.

"People do walk-a-thons all the time, so why not raise money for the kids paddling," Winslow said.

"The money I raise can go for scholarships or equipment. I've already raised $300, so there's no backing out now."

Photo by Kathryn Winslow
  Bill Winslow checks out how he fits in his kayak with all of his stowed gear while in his garage earlier this spring.
Winslow paid the $400 entry fee out of his own pocket and he spent another $2,700 to buy a used kayak from Yukon River Quest veteran Steve Reifenstuhl. Winslow's calling his team "Keet," which is the Tlingit name for killer whale.

Winslow has been paddling at least four times a week around Sitka Sound to get ready, with at least one trip a week lasting four to six hours or more.

Reifenstuhl has been helping Winslow prepare for the race.

"I talked to Steve Reifenstuhl, and he told me what to expect," Winslow said. "Steve said, 'Bill, don't try to win this race, just survive.

"Don't try to win, because that's how people get hurt.' I think I'll do OK, though."

To sponsor Winslow, call 966-8844 or e-mail

You also can write a check to the Sitka Fire Department, but write the name "Sitka Youth First Responders" in the memo. For race information, go to