Team Lagopus

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Team members: Ken Legg, Joseph Hyde Lawton, Matthew Wooding, Andrew Christopher Tarling
Hometown: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Race vessel: Olson 30
LOA: 30′
Human propulsion: Oars/rowing, pedal drive

Canada. Once we clear our minds of all of the tropes: the maple syrup jokes, Bob and Doug Mackenzie, Eh?, Mounties, poutine, hockey, Tim Hortons, Prime Minister yoga pants, mid 90’s white rappers who chose the handle “MC Snow,” because apparently “MC Maple Syrup” was taken—once we get past all of that, just saying the name makes us think of all of the Canadians we’ve met over the years. Adventurous, polite, boisterous, and a particular quality only able to be expressed by a word in their mother tongue: cheeky. Maybe it’s the particular circles we sail in, but we’ve never met a boring Canadian (ok, we’ve met two, but that’s pretty good odds.) More often than not, we find ourselves laughing hysterically and feeling reassured that the US has yet to slap an import tariff on Canadian comedians. The Canadians we know might not be the most responsible, but they’d have your back in a fight and are always good for a laugh.

If the British Commonwealth was the Royal Family, Canada would be Prince Harry.

We weren’t too many beers into dreaming up the R2AK when we realized that this is a Canadian race. It starts in the US, ends in whatever version of the US that Alaska is, but really the race is 90% Canada. We thought about changing the name to the more accurate, “Race past Canada,” but decided against it. It was rude. We didn’t call it that for the same reason we never bring up that Canadian hockey teams have collectively won fewer Stanely Cups in the last 25 years than the city of Anaheim. We might not be Canadian, but if we try, we can be polite too.

The North Vancouver hailing Team Lagopus are bullseye on the kind of dyed in the serge Canadians we know. Let’s start with adventurous. This team has sucked the marrow out of BC’s adventure potential with mountain treks, sailing adventures, and, more often than not, sailing adventures just to go climb a mountain. When they needed more, they just started it, founding West Van’s Hollyburn Sailing Center, and the Tour de Howe Sound, an event that sails around the islands in BC’s windy fjord, then runs to the top of each all in the same day.

Now fast forward to cheeky: All we wanted to know was whether they were qualified. We got that, and cheeky to spare:

  • One claimed that his PHd in Chemistry was what qualified him to be in charge of the pyrotechnics. Another is in charge of amputations because his wife is a doctor.
  • The self-described “Least of the Sailors” submitted his application in rhyming couplets. Rightfully, he did not use that to claim qualification as their poet laureate.
  • They were the second team to name themselves Team Ptarmigan. We told them they couldn’t be a second Team Ptarmigan; they came back named the Latin translation.
  • We ask for identifying descriptors for search and rescue purposes. They described themselves as, “So damned pretty.”

Their boat is Canadian only in the sense it was designed near Anaheim, but the Olson 30 has a certain magnetism for the R2AK: two are in this year’s race, and another Canadian Olson team rang the bell in Ketchikan in 2016 (see Team Hot Mess). Olsons are an 80’s vintage racer that are fast, weatherly, and hopefully exciting enough to keep Team Lagopus from stopping and climbing a mountain mid-race simply out of habit.

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Lagopus. With luck, we’ll celebrate you in Ketchikan with a sixer of (M)Oslen.