Team members: Mark Dix
Hometown: Seattle, Washington, USA
Race vessel: Tornado Beachcat
Human propulsion: custom pedal/prop system
The first year of the R2AK was bonkers. We launched the event with 9 months notice, and other than a shared “moth to the candle” fascination with the idea of an engineless unsupported race to Alaska, the common thread between us and the racers was a “We’ll make the parachute on the way down” strategy to making sure we were collectively ready for showtime. Year one had people building their boat on the boat ramp, looking at charts for the first time, and chain smoking in order to quit. Everyone had the jitters, but especially that guy. As soon as the starting gun went off the racers ran face first into 30 knots. It was mayhem. Boats broke, sunk, scattered across the 40 miles of saltwater everywhere between Port Townsend and Victoria’s Stage 1 finish line.
In the mayhem of carnage and shattered dreams we lost track of the most vulnerable, a lone windsurfer sailing under the enigmatic moniker of “Team The Windsurfer.” Mission control hit the big red button, sirens blared, we scrambled the air wing, and everyone scanned visible horizons and tracker screens praying for the best and expecting the worst from the cold waters and freighter traffic. We were one phone call away from putting him on milk cartons when we widened our search area to include the area in front of the fleet. There he was. We breathed easy and then gasped in a single, awkward respiratory impossibility: Mark was better than ok; he was in front, way in front. We lost track of him because he was so far in front that he was a couple of virtual horizons in front of even the raciest of the multihulls—skipping from wave top to wave top and killing it on the smallest “boat” in the fleet.
Mark is back with a new name and an actual boat. Four years after “Windsurfer rising,” Team WaterWorld Impending is heading to Ketchitown on a Tornado, a boat that would only sound like a reasonable choice for the R2AK if your last vessel was a windsurfer.
For the uninformed, Tornados are like a Hobie 16 after its third doping scandal. This 20’ roids rage of a beach cat ripped itself out of the mold back in 1967 and was the Olympic multihull for 30 years. To the catamaran set, Tornados still hold legendary status as a high powered twitchy sleigh ride that is as fun as it is upright. To this day it’s spoken about with fear and awe. Do not taunt a Tornado.
Welcome to the show Team WaterWorld Impending, please don’t hurt us, and keep your boat on a leash.