Team Fly Baby Fly

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Team members: Christian Patrick
Hometown: New York, New York, USA
Race vessel: Racing Proa
LOA: 34′
Human propulsion: Oars
Connect: website

We thought we’d seen it all. After four years of a near constant stream of teams coming across our desk, the bar for what will raise our eyebrow has gone up over the years. There’s a guy on a prone paddle board this year for crissakes. We’re not numb to the process. We don’t look at the applications with dead inside-stripper eyes just so we can upsell Stage One boats into the champagne room of a full race, “Oh your boat looks so fast…”

This isn’t a transactional thing, we’re not jaded, we like all of the applicants, we’ve just gotten used to filtering through to know what’s going to pass muster, and not judging whether something fits or not. Stand up paddleboard? Sure. Trimaran? Of course. Rowboat rescued from the bushes? Do what you like. As long as it fits and matches your desire and skills, we like whatever it is you want to put in. You be you.

Then we read a resume that made us feel something new. A life of frenetic and all-encompassing purpose that wasn’t a cautious toe-in sort of an affair; this guy ran the bases with abandon: Navy nuclear power tech turned model/actor turned investment banker. He’s gone paragliding in Chile and France, ice-climbed active volcanoes, flown planes up and down the eastern seaboard and deep into the interior for seemingly whimsical reasons we’re not entirely sure of.

Depending on your generation, all of that fits inside of the Thomas Crown/Bobby Axlerod/Wolf of Wall Street character archetype of adrenaline consumption, but in 2007 he became an anti-capitalism activist, started a Freegan Workshop that taught people to dumpster dive and salvaged 1500 bikes and boats from the garbage stream. Then he got into sailing, solo sailing all hull combinations to and from the Caribbean and East Coast, including a Massachusetts to Bahamas run on the 35’ open-bridge racing cat—like no cabin for a couple thousand miles. This is someone who drinks from the firehose of life.

Then in the middle of our surprise, we were surprised again by this bit: “When between projects, he travels the world consulting and teaching classes on pansexuality.”

If you are like us, you are at the moment when you are simultaneously in applause of his just putting it out there, wanting to know what exactly that meant, and making the call to stop typing at “E” because you’re on your work computer. There are many better explanations out there, but we think NWA said it well: “We don’t just say no, we’re too busy saying yeah!” We still don’t have a grasp of the full girth of the meaning, but if you have questions you can start at his website or his BDSM persona Master Avery (you can just Google that one yourself).

Team Fly Baby Fly’s race vessel is one that could only be owned by someone with a very open mind. As it gets dismissed in near theatrical proportions (“If that’s what they want to do, fine, but have the decency to shunt over the horizon”), there is a large portion of folks who, if they were being honest with themselves, are truly closer to Proa-curious than they’d admit in public. For those of you in a committed to more traditional, monohull sort of relationship with the boats, you may be in the dark about how Proas “work.” It’s actually an ancient design that has evolved into its modern form with the help of space age polymers. Looking somewhere between an outrigger canoe and a trimaran with a hull hacked off, Proas don’t tack or jibe; they shunt: the boats bow and stern are identical with lifting rudders on each that are used one at a time. When a Proa tacks, it heads up wind, drops the bow rudder, lifts the stern rudder, swings the main sail from one side of the boat to the other, shifts the jib from the end that was the bow to the one that now is, the bow becomes the stern and the stern becomes the bow, and the boat sails off in the other direction.

Strictly speaking, the boat goes both ways.

Christian is sailing solo (yes, he does that too), which makes all of this make entirely less and more sense all at the same time. For us, it’s comforting: we’ve gone all the way with ourselves way more times than with someone else, let alone two or three. We once went all the way with nine sailors, but we were in our twenties and in the merchant marine. We went to Ketchikan all the time, regular stop for the boat we worked on, no big thing. We digress…

Solid boat, crazy enthusiasm, weird fast boat. Welcome to the R2AK, Team Fly Baby Fly. May the Inside Passage embrace you as much as you embrace everything else.