Kriska and Be-Bi Bones Express win tough Yukon 800

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 08:29 -- jcook

FAIRBANKS-This year's Doyon Limited Yukon 800 Marathon race exemplified what is dubbed the toughest riverboat race in the world.

14 riverboat crews set out from Pike's Landing on Saturday and only two made it back to Pike's on Sunday afternoon.

The first boat in was Tom Kriska and the Be-Bi-Bones express. They came in second last year but won it all this year as he was greeted with cheers and hugs from fans and loved ones.

Clinton Huntington and River's Edge were the second crew to make it back to Pike's despite flipping over three times.

The battle was just making it back to Fairbanks. Numerous boats scratched that couldn't finish because of mechanical problems and rough conditions. There were reported four foot waves heading into Galena.

Kriska was happy to win this race despite not having his wife as part of the crew, she came down with an illness before the race. Subbing in was rookie Leslie Jones from Koyukuk who was the engineer for Be-Bi Bones Express in this year's unforgiving race.

"I'm really happy for my late friend. His daughter, Vernon Jone's daughter, in her first Yukon 800 and we won it," Kriska said.

Leslie Jones, the rookie engineer, talked about her Yukon 800 experience."

This being my first race it was very smooth the whole way. It didn't rain that much and the only patchy part was right before Galena and it was all rocky water. There was a bunch of white caps," Jones said. "It was very dangerous and the second boat behind us flipped over so anything can happen at any moment. You can't really tell with nature it just changes really fast."

"All these tries we've been trying, we just never gave up and paid off today," Be-Bi Jones navigator Vernon Stickman said.

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