Team Kootenay Pedalwheelers

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Team members: Jay Blackmore, Tim Rippel, Mike Bowick, Tim Thurston, Roger Hassol
Hometown: Nelson, BC, Canada
Race vessel: Flying Tiger 10m
LOA: 33′
Human propulsion: Dual pedal drive
Connect: facebook, instagram

If you’re like us, chances are that when you hear the word Kootenay you’re back in the 1980’s macrobrew glory days. When Hamm’s was the beer refreshing, the Silver Bullet never slowed you down, and the cultural divide was defined by your stance on the great Less Filling/Tastes Great debate rather than whether you thought you heard yanni or laurel. They were simpler times: a Sasquatch hawked beers on television while 4x4s filled with two-fours delivered lager to 1980s gender-stereotyped mountain campfires to the Bob and Doug McKenzie call:

Coo-Roo-Coo-Coo-Coo-Coo-Coo-Coo!

If you’re old enough and from around here, you can’t hear that and not slam one down and crush it on your forehead. The Kootenays was the source of Kokanee brew, eh? BC’s answer to Coors, and the beer of choice when quantity mattered and Molson wasn’t cheap enough. The Kootenays fueled a hockey-haired generation to make bad decisions with enthusiasm. What’s the connection? Beyond the fact that they hail from the Kootenays, “enthusiastic bad ideas” is the source code of the R2AK. 

To a man, the team members of Team Kootenay Pedalwheelers have made lives out of the sort of decisions that make beers and worried mothers get drunk. Their self-employed, adventure-seeking non-conformity looks like they made a pact back in Grade 12 to freak out their guidance counselors, only to return successful and drink a Kokanee toast to themselves at their 30th reunion. All of them dove deep into the adventure-forward lifestyle: 8-months-at-a-time breaks to climb mountains or sail the Sea of Cortez, five consecutive seasons sailing in Alaska, whitewater paddling, cross-Pacific deliveries, Peruvian mountain climbing, bicycling Europe, and spent years sailing up and down Lake Kootenay transporting grain for a carbon free CSA. Suck on that guidance counselors: who’s a hoser now? 

Today? They aren’t just ok, they’re Bachman Turner Overdrive-ok. Look at them: they’re self-employed, taking care of business every day. 

They all decided to go their own way, and in between the near ridiculous amount of recreational mountaineering and sailing, they worked their way up the ladder whitewater rafting, heli-ski guiding, and mountaineering. At least two of them even started businesses in and around their hometown of Nelson, BC. Our favorite: Peak Freak Expeditions. No, it’s not the stepladder and binoculars safari for voyeurs that you/we had thought/hoped when we first read the name, but a self-described “adventurepreneurial” success story that trains people for, and then guides them up, Everest for the last 28 years. By 98% of the available standards, that’s pretty badass.  

Their boat: a Flying Tiger; potentially the only design that could match their streak of Pacific Northwest/Canadian Southwest self-determined individuality. The Flying Tiger was born in the mid 2000s from a predictably heated online discussion on Sailing Anarchy where a group of one-design racers group-thought the parameters for the design of the perfect 30-foot sportsboat. Then PNW’s own resident genius, Bob Perry, the crusty Wizard of Tulalip, got roped into the process and cranked out the Anarchy 30, which begat the Flying Tiger 10 M, which was conceived and birthed in the gracious and supportive scrutiny that only an open internet forum can offer. Despite and because of “all play” polyamourous process of conception and design, the boat is a monster in 32 feet. Fin/bulb keel and a rig for days, the FT is a competitive one design fleet—it even has enough of a cabin that you can duck in, shotgun a Kokanee, smash the can on your forehead, and grab a quick nap while the rest of your crew pounds north at boat speeds of 16+.

Shit hot boat, proven crew, the potential for nonstop references: this is going to be epic. 

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Kootenay Pedalwheelers. Even if you’re running against the wind, make the Great White North proud.