Team members: Rhys Balmer, Josiah Ball, Martin Gibson, Har Rai Khalsa
Hometown: Friday Harbor, WA, USA
Race vessel: Soverell 33 Monohull
Human propulsion: Feet
Connect: facebook, instagram, web, youtube
TL;DR: Oligarchs, government cheese, childbirth, dentistry, and pressurized sewage.
It’s been said that sailing is a sport for the rich, and while it isn’t true, it certainly is. From the sport’s 1661, Anglo-centered origin story when King Charles II challenged the Duke of York to a gaff-rigged drag race on the Thames, to the last America’s Cup that pitted international billionaires’ egos and bank accounts against one another—there’s a Scrooge McDuck/oligarch energy that serves as a throughline.
You’re right, going sailing doesn’t take the $300M that Oracle threw at their America’s Cup in 2014. And yes, we concede that doing a thing and winning its highest prize requires vastly different resources. Exhibit B:
Soccer ball, 18 friends, and 4 shirts to mark the goals? $27
Payroll of FC Barcelona: $533M
With wage and wealth gaps diverging as fast as the US and an America’s Cup win, no question that sailing’s getting harder to afford for the non-billionaire class. Sure there is chartering, fractional ownership, and a more “dirtbag-forward” menu of options that is the source code for us here at R2AK, but the fact remains: it still takes resources, and it’s not like you see a lot of government cheese on Yacht Club appetizer platters.
Unless your silver-spooned mouth emerged from a birth canal-lined in gold, if you’re sailing inclined, you’ve got compromises. We’ve seen two paths:
- Work to sail
- Sail to work, for as long as possible
Either become a dentist so you can afford the sails and winches of your weekend buoy racing habit, or become one of the legions of sailing pros hired to service dentists’ dreams worldwide.
Like ski bumming, fish guiding, carnival working, and artisanal baking—any job that looks like the escape plan for a mid-twenties slacker, or a divorcee’s midlife crisis—those jobs? Incredible in the abstract and all prey to a “Living the dream tax”, a paycheck reduction round down levied by everyone who moves out, buys a van, and starts living their best Jimmy Buffet life. The low pay is ok until they’re 2 years in and they’re midway through troubleshooting the onboard toilets when the pressurized line empties into their face right as their stupid clients demand one more stupid thing. In a single raw sewage and corn bespeckled epiphany, they realize two things:
- The dream is a lot of work
- They are over both kinds of shit they are taking right now.
Time to run back to the comfortable compromises of grad school/dentistry/not-quite-finalized divorce.
Our advice: shower first.
Moral of the story: People can work in sailing as long as they can afford it.
It’s a lot of work to stay sailing rich/money broke, and most people drop out along the way; heed the mid-30s siren song of prudence, transition from pro to client, become the dentist, trade sailing all year for Wednesday nights and weekends, health insurance, and a 401k.
Enter Team Elsewhere, the bifurcated scatter pattern of how to stay true to your sailing self when your responsibility gene kicks in. The three team members’ current professions: Lawyer, Architect, and Sailor. Not only are they racing to Alaska, they’re perpetually a rabbi and two leprechauns short of walking into a bar and accidentally LARPing a dirty joke.
Captain Rhys Balmer is Team Elswhere’s sole member still active as a sailing pro: Thousands of miles transiting oceans, training clients, and even writing the occasional piece for 48º North, the best sailing magazine this side of anywhere. In our experience, sailors are either good at sailing or good at marketing. That Rys didn’t name the team after his sailing business, we knew one thing for sure: he must be a sailing god.
His crew is rounded out by more prudent sailors who hung up their foulies for straight gigs after a lifetime of progressing from the youth sailing circuit, marine tech, sailing coach, then crew on big boat buoy races throughout the region: Oregon Offshore, TransPacs, Round the County, and the Dentistry Invitational.
Team Elsewhere’s boat is a floating monument to their collective prudence/sailing compromise. Sorverell 33s are a legendary niche mid-80s racer that head fakes toward domesticity by adding a couple of 4’x9’ berths to its otherwise spartan interior. It’s like installing seat warmers into a Formula 1 race car and claiming it’s family-friendly. There’s no hot water, no shower, and a v-berth right sized for the aforementioned leprechauns. The toilet is convenient for nothing other than washing your hands in cold water mid-business.
What it lacks in creature comforts it makes up for in speed, 50-foot mast consistently placing with the more modern J105—especially in the type of light air conditions the team described as “gnat’s fart”. Classy must happen in the eponymous “Elsewhere”.
Fast boat with the kind of sailor who is horrific at marketing, Team Elsewhere might just be the team to beat.
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Elsewhere. While we might be jealous of your still-sailing lifestyle, what truly annoys us is the inevitable punchline when someone asks where you are on the tracker.