Team members: Benjamin Baranko, Linda Cise, Mark Slovak, James T (JT) More
Hometown: Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA
Race vessel: S2 7.9
Human propulsion: Homemade sliding seat
Team Teewinot had two strikes against them before we were two sentences into their application.
#1: Their name. Anything that we have to Google gets an automatic demerit. That we learned that it’s a peak in Wyoming, an inland mountain, you just got two.
#2: This part: “Alizée is a classic Midwestern American design…” A lot to unpack here. First words first, their boat name: Alizée. We’re as big of fans of the same-named French pop star as the next guy—we jam on her entire career, from “Moi…Lolita” to “À cause de l’automne”—but is the comely French pop star really the “thug forward” persona we’re hoping to nurture here at R2AK? Biggie Smalls gets closer, and that guy couldn’t stop rapping about Alizée…the urban marketed fruit and cognac combo that, according to the videos, seemed impossible to drink away from a pool or a bikini. Either way, we’re good, but we like it when they call it Big Poppa.
More importantly, “classic Midwestern design.”
That clanger hit our ear like “Best bacon in Israel.” Sure, sailing happens in the Midwest. There are lakes, and a few of them attain capital G Greatness. The Chicago-Mackinaw Race is a thing that exists and is revered, but past the great houses Melges or Gougeon, we’re not sure “classic design” and “Midwest” can live smirk-free in the same maritime sentence anywhere outside of the Central/Mountain Time Zones. It might play in Peoria, but somewhere a Herreshoff just got annoyed for a disturbance in the force they can’t quite put their middle finger on.
Lucky for us, we holstered our doubts and saltwater biases and read on. The S2 7.9 is actually a classic design that happens to come from America’s middle coast where it’s sailed as a one design class five hundred strong—still sailing 30 years in. Its fractional rig and dagger board, narrow entry and fat stern make it a 26’ dinghy whose favorable PHRF rating has earned it the name, “Giant killer.” Since you can trailer launch it and pick one up for seven grand, it’s got blue collar appeal. You had us at all of that.
Their crew is a little more than ridiculous. Big wall climbers, sailors, outdoor educators turned adult, they have done an enviable amount of sailing across the blue parts between Lake Michigan, a couple of decades in the Salish Sea, not to mention the time they sailed through Patagonia, crossed Chile’s southern icefield, and then did a second ascent of Cerro San Valentin. Wizard of Bristol be damned, these are our people!
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Teewinot. We look forward to celebrating your first ascent of the outer coast’s version of the Inside Passage.