Perspective is everything. From the periphery you might say Roger Mann has a problem. Roger has been the first person to enter the R2AK’s collective “What if…” four years running. Which means that each time we shrugged and hit submit on our website renewal, Roger was there, hovering sleep deprived with a completed application, washing down No Doze with espresso and Gas Monkey Energy Drink, just clicking the submit button over and over until the error message is replaced by a confirmation email; wave of euphoria washing away the shaky, sweaty nights between races. Roger is on our virtual corner, waiting for the man, application fee in his hand.
From another vantage you see only the consummate adventurer who takes each race as an chance to push it just a bit farther, searching for the sublime that can only come at the ragged, sleep-starved edge of our abilities. Roger came on our radar screen when he was still running laps around the Watertribe fleet, besting double-handed records as a solo racer and making double-handed teams question whether cannibalism should only be a last resort. Roger was passing them, again, and we’re sure that at least one duo eyed each other, silently weighing the chance of jail time and damnation against the weight savings of going preemptive Donner.
Roger needed more, he needed to go deeper into the jungle.
Roger’s two successful R2AKs were defined by vision quest level human endurance; the third was defined by a bad transmission and the Rocky Mountains (he never made it to the starting line). Both times he finished solo we heard stories so incredible we couldn’t tell where the blurry edge of halucination nudged Roger’s conscious mind out of the narrative’s driver’s seat: He was swept off his boat at midnight, in 15 foot seas, during max current in Seymour Narrows. He pitchpoled onto a beach and had to cut off the legs of a dry suit so filled with water it seemed complicit with the surf that was trying to drown him. He sailed through a supermarket full of Mountain Dew, right down the aisles. Friends walked out to talk to him in the middle of Hecate Strait. He dropped 15 pounds both times despite the successive pies and Big Macs he ate with new found friends in villages along the route. The deep seated exhaustion that you could feel exhaling through his pitted his eyes as he told us stories from that place beyond the point of no return.
Vision quests aside, his R2AKs are labs for human accomplishment, his 2017 finish (9d 18h 48m) cut three and a half days and change off of his 2015 bid when he set the record for solo. On trip #2 he went from a rotomolded production boat he chose as much for its capabilities as for the logistic simplicity of buying it for the free shipping to the starting line, to a self-constructed trimaran that gained him time, but left him 7 hours behind the new holder of the solo record. This year he sponsored up with an energy drink to offset the fatigue, and augmented his inner badass with a newest LiteBoat to hit the water. The LiteRace 1X, 20 feet of French finesse and Sam Manuard fantasy, designed to race the big seas and ready to fight. The LiteRace is fast, cruising at a steady 5 – 6.5 knots.
Add to all of that speed and experience, Roger’s sponsor is Gas Monkey Energy; a sports drink that gets as close to weapons-grade adrenaline as you can legally fit into a 16-oz can. Imagine a monkey powered by gasoline; that’s not even close to what they cram in there.
A fast boat combined with a proven veteran consuming enough Gas Monkey Energy until sleep is a memory, time becomes three dimensional, and he radiates an eerie glow; all the ingredients of a legit run at the solo record, and a plausible back story for when he goes legit superhero.
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Gas Monkey Energy. You can start the race whenever you see the bat signal.