Team Pickles 2019 R2AK

Team LaqVelo

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Team members: Randall Aldern
Hometown: Port Townsend, Washington, USA
Race vessel: ONE SUP
LOA: 17.5′
Human propulsion: Paddle

Team IaqVelo has two annoying things going for it:

  1. We have no idea what the hell the team name means (and are too proud/disinterested to ask).
  2. His story is the through line between 3 contradicting cultural truisms. Starting with #1: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

After all of that, let’s start by saying we had no idea. We were busy going through applications submitted in air-mail envelopes from around the globe, checking references with Olympic Committees, debating details of boat construction, or just how many concussions should make us get a doctor’s note—in the midst of all of that, an application was slipped under the door of R2AK HQ. Plain, unmarked envelope, no postage.

Given our history, we were just as surprised that it wasn’t a summons as we were at the actual contents: an application from Team LaqVelo, or as we know him: Randall.

Randall literally lives in his boat down the street. We wave when he gets coffee, he volunteers here at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, he generally seems mild-mannered and harmless. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen him with a SUP on the roof of his car, on the water more and more, but never suspected that he got out there every morning so he could get out there for 750 miles to Alaska. You’d think he’d have said something. Unless his point was to secret squirrel this thing to the hilt, it might have come up during any of the coffee-wave moments over the past four years. It could have been easy:

Randall “LaqVelo” Boatguy: “I’ll have an Earl Gray Tea Latte… BTW I’m going to SUP your race.”

R2AK: “That will be $4.25…what, really?!?”

On further examination, it passes the duck test, or aphorism #2: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

Once we understood what was going on (and served him his EGTL), it all started to fall into place. While his boat has been on the hard as long as we’ve known him, his enviable/apparent/scrappy mid-40s retirement has included some epic single handing: west coast to east coast via the panama canal, north to Haida Gwaii, circumnavigating VanIsland, and every morning for three years on his SUP—sometimes overnight (“Never saw it coming,” we said to the lady behind him with the non-fat hazelnut latte). Single-handed sailing chops, 1-2 times a day SUP training, overnights, and a ‘no room for cream’ bare bones choice of a vessel. This guy might actually have the Venti-sized bag of tricks to make it work.

#3: If the foo shits, wear it.

Honestly, other than a punchline that makes our dad jingle the change in his pockets, we don’t even know what that means. We hope it actually means that Randall is pouring over the charts, and getting ripped and double skinny from the last few years he spent laser focused on standing tall and getting comfortable with the drysuit/wet feet/wet foam lifestyle of the SUP adventure set. Other than knowing that he rides all 17+’ of his Ben Tardew Custom SUP, the only other thing we can verify from his milk-foam mustache is that Randall is headed north, with an unpronounceable named team, and our excitement is reaching caffeinated proportions.

Welcome to the R2AK, Team LaqVelo. We look forward to better tips if you win the $10,000.