Nanaouq Tanuyak of Rankin Inlet proudly holds up the championship trophy after claiming top spot in the Rankin Inlet to Whale Cove snowmobile race on Sunday, April 7, 2024. Photo courtesy of Rankin to Whale race committee.Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nanaouq Tanuyak claimed the checkered flag for the Rankin Inlet to Whale Cove snowmobile race before a large, boisterous crowd on Sunday, April 7.

Race committee member Silu Autut said the race went very well.

He said this year’s race was far more successful than the 2023 edition, which the committee only had a week to prepare for.

“We had a full year to prepare ourselves this time and have everything organized properly,” said Autut.

“We had a really great crew and the outcome was phenomenal.

“It was a very competitive race. I was using a Duration Calculator during the race and, when I was doing the times, I was like, wow, this guys are minutes, if not seconds, apart.”

Autut said the crowd at the race was amazing. He said they had everyone on the ice with people going all the way down to Johnston Cove in Rankin.

He said, with a chuckle, that everyone on the ice was waving to Kelly Owlijoot as he flew a helicopter around the racers for the entire event.

“We had 35 racers at the start but there were a few who dropped out. One racer actually gave his uncle his snowmobile to race instead. He did the honorable thing, I think, in getting his family member to race instead of himself. Very cool.

“A couple of people, both before and during the race, broke down or wiped out.

“We’re so thankful that nobody had serious injuries. Everyone made it home and everybody seemed to really have fun.”

Injuries are a concern with any snowmobile race.

Autut said he was nervous and often felt like he was racing himself.  

He said the committee’s top priority for the race was everyone’s safety.  

“I got up early the day of the race to look at the weather and make sure everything was safe for the event.

“We had to delay the race for one day (originally scheduled for Saturday, April 6) due to weather issues and everything worked out perfectly.

“It all just came together better than we’d even hoped. Nobody complained about anything.”

To the best of everyone’s recollection, 2025 will mark the 50th anniversary for the start of the Rankin to Whale Race in 1975.

Autut said the race was not held for a number of years when everyone just simply seemed to forget about it for awhile.

He said the committee pulled a rabbit out of its hat to hold it in 2023 with just a week’s notice, but this year’s event more than made up for the lack of time in preparing for the previous race.

“I think we had 13 racers in 2023 and we even threw-in some money out of our own pockets to make it work.

“There was really a great buzz around this year’s race. The atmosphere, or vibe, from everyone was just incredible. People are already talking about next year’s race.  

“This year we were reaching out to people to help us as sponsors of the race, and now it’s them coming to us, so we’re on the right track.”

Tanuyak, 32, took top spot and the $15,000 prize money in the race with a time of 1:21.01 (hours, minutes, seconds).

It was Tanuyak’s second time entered in the event, having also raced in 2023.

Tanuyak said he found this year’s course to be very good.

He said he found the 102-mile (160 km return) course to be “pretty smooth” overall.

“I just tried to go as fast as I could during the whole race,” said Tanuyak, who drove an 850 Ski-Doo to victory.

“I’d say my top speed during the race was about 115 mph.  

“I didn’t even realize I had won the race until they were giving out the awards later that day at the arena. I knew I was close but they didn’t post the times until later at the arena.”

Tanuyak said the crowd this year was awesome.

He said moving forward, he can see the race growing even bigger.

“I love everything about my machine. You need the speed, of course, but your suspension is probably the most important thing during this race.

“I’ll be pumped to try and defend my championship in next year’s race.

“It’s pretty exciting to be racing at that speed.  

“This year’s race was pretty-well organized. I liked it and I’m already looking forward to next year’s race.”

By Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 12, 2024 at 13:29

This item reprinted with permission from   Kivalliq News   Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
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