Team members: Michelle Choy, Carling Zeeman
Hometown: San Francisco, CA, USA
Race vessel: Merry Sea rowboat
Human propulsion: Legs, core, arms—repeat
TL;DR: Poop, Olympic medalists, clowns, Uber, animal exploitation, and a lot of rowing.
You would think that a team that can boast repping the US in global open water rowing, won at least one medal while rowing for Canada, was ranked 15th in the world, and have fought off a 600-pound sea lion that tried to sink them/take up residence on their rowboat during a training run in San Francisco Bay would merit us writing about their accomplishments. The fact that their adventure resume includes even more rowing, summiting peaks from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Kilimanjaro, motorcycle trips from Oregon to Panama and around the perimeter of Zanzibar, running their ass around the rim of an active Nicaraguan volcano until their shoes melted, rappelling off of a mountain to meet their Uber (5 Stars). You’d think that with all that resume we’d introduce them by… well, any way other than circuses.
You’d be wrong.
Not the hipster re-birth that crawled into the abandoned shell of the motif to get ballyhoo ironic and subversively clown-core sexy; unshaven fire dancers, body pride tattooed burlesque, juggling pins hand-harvested from the bowling alley demo’d to make way for tech bro condos.
Those were… fine, but pale to the age of big-carbon big tents that cruised coal-burning trains full of rare animals and human freaks through the pre-PETA/ADA American landscape. Lions in cages, dancing bears in leashed muzzles, pay-to-play live shows of the double-jointed, after-hours strippers in Betty Boop haircuts dropping the seventh veil for the one-dollar antes from the extras off ‘Of Mice and Men’—all under tents erected by elephants, non-union workers, and other beasts of burden. In the time before introspection, the P.T. Barnums of the world planted their profits three rings deep into the pie-eyed imaginations of North Americana. Roll into town, pitch the tents, exploit the animals, fleece the rubes, repeat until television made it corny.
Somewhere between heyday and twee-infused death rattle, circuses birthed an act that remains a relatively guilt-free favorite: the clown car. It’s a simple concept:
- Find the smallest car you can
- Fill it with clowns
- Drive it around
- Pop-out in improbable, big-shoed hilarity.
Clown Car was a solid bit that harmed no one outside of an occasional clown-on-clown staph infection. For all of the good, relatively clean fun, Clown Car doesn’t quite play like it used to:
Clowns crammed into a pre-war Civic? Hilarious. Commuters crammed into an UberX in a waning pandemic? One star and Covid.
RIP Clown Car. Never forget.
To our knowledge and the first page of a Google search, as funny as they were, no one ever tried to road trip in a clown car… until Team Let’s Row Maybe. These folks are as far from ‘clown’ as you can get, but it’s impossible to jam that much human/human accomplishment into a rowboat meant for one and not think they might take the R2AK’s yet to be created ‘Clown Car Prize’ for most human per boat unit.
Two humans, one rowboat.
They are taking two grown humans and all their gear, to Alaska, on a rowboat, in which your two options for body placement are:
- Actively rowing
- Actively rowing from the other seat.
For reasons of speed, comfort, and stress of human compression, it’s a fact that smaller boats are way harder to R2AK. Sure the rowing, but what if they want to sleep? What if they want to poop with more privacy than 6 inches of distance allows? For two or three weeks… this is going to get cozy and weird. We are beyond excited.
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Let’s Row Maybe. Not for nothing, but unless you’re up for Team Clown Car, without a sailing option, we’d suggest changing your name to Team Let’s Row Definitely (runner up: Team Let’s Poop Proximally).