Team members: Nadia Khalil, Francesca Dougherty, Sebastian Dougherty, Enzo Dougherty
Hometown: Seattle, WA, USA
Race vessel: Santa Cruz 27 Monohull
Human propulsion: Twin pedal drives
Connect: instagram, tiktok
TL;DR: Ageism, puberty, underage sex, incontinence, Vladimir Putin, and the existence of multiple types and locations of body hair.
If you’re between the ages of Chinese gymnast and AARP Gold Club, in the 800 or so words that lie to the south of this one right here, there is a non-zero chance your self-confidence will go from Olympic Gold at age 12 / Boomer-Karen at 55 to absolutely inadequate.
Sorry and you’re welcome. You probably needed it.
If you’re new to the aging game, you should know that it is an absolute right for every waning generation to heckleshame the one rising behind them about how relatively easy it is. From round wheels to sliced bread, birth control, Stonewall riots, interracial dating—the 20th century elder to younger divide offers some ubiquitous version of “Back in my day we milked cows uphill both ways before the cellphone internet social media-ed things and what the hell is avocado toast?” It’s as boring as it’s probably at least a little bit true.
And their music… it’s just noise.
After 6 years of this race, we’ve seen it all: Sponsored teams of peak meat mid-twenties talent, parent and child conquests, not quite 80-year-olds on boats they built in their glory days, cancer survivors, cancer patients not likely to earn the survivor status who are R2AKing to swan song the last item on their bucket list.
There are all kinds of impressive that toe the starting line of this thing, but in an odd moment of unity, it’s safe to say that the most impressive entries tend to be those from the extreme ends of life’s spectrum. Sure, we’re golf clapped impressed that you romped your primetime 20s body to Alaska on a souped-up wind rocket—try doing it when you’re 72, at the ragged end of your cartilage, and need to pee 5 times a night. Try doing it when your life experience has yet to include voting, your voice is cracking, and you’re still a little freaked out by all the acne and body hair. (The hair bit is true for the older teams too, but more in eyebrows, back, and ears.)
Once in the bluest of moons, a team comes forward with the experience and youth to blow all this out of the water. Enter Team Rite of Passage, a team that pairs their eager, accomplished, and a collective 65 years on the planet buttressed by mentorship of R2AK’s luminaries.
The team clocks in at 15 to 18 years old. By all available measurements and data, individually they’re legally allowed only 1-2 of the vices that make life worth living. Collectively they can barely collect social security, and then only if they went to the office stacked up in a trenchcoat.
Young enough they still count their age in numbers and halfs, Team Rite of Passage has experience that should get them college credit, or at least cool school prom royalty:
- Three years of cruising from Brazil to North Carolina
- Thousands of nautical miles on boats as small as a kayak and as large as a 45’ voyaging catamaran.
- Dinghy sailing for years, national competitions to boot
- Ropework and sailor craftiness that rivals the entire state of Maine
- Crazy bike fitness to cruise by their elders when there’s no wind and middle-aged knees need ibuprofen for their ibuprofen.
- Backpacking across German mountains
- Scuba diving closer to water
- Sharpening knives until they can whittle hair (Hair!)
- Honing linebacker skills to dominate the running start in Victoria.
More than who they are, they seem to be surfing a tsunami of support from a community of R2AK luminaries who have co-signed for their credibility. Local legends of the buoy racing scene, R2AK veterans including our first champion. Team Rite of Passage’s dojo stable includes folks with the experience and passion to turn their potential and experience into a threat to be reckoned with.
Wait, this is just hitting us: at 15–18, Team Rite of Passage are being ushered past R2AK’s velvet ropes because the coolest people we know believe in them to the core? What about us? (Also, the cool people never returned our calls. We just wanted to hang out. We know the Macarena. We have smokes, a pony keg of Hamms, $300 of reservation fireworks, and a hall pass for the weekend. They know this. Chrissakes…)
Up and comers coming into our house and making us feel old and irrelevant? Feeling Putin-esque levels of inadequacy here. Don’t blame us if the next time you see R2AK we’re bare chesting a horse ride, suppressing the free press, and pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war to assuage our egos and get Al Hughes (R2AK’s inaugural champion and low key legend of PNW sailing) to answer our frigging phone calls. This shit’s on you, and especially you, Al—you nicest and most talented guy we know and person we’re picking a fight with to make ourselves feel better.
If Al Hughes is the unknowing PNW Ukraine proxy in R2AK’s waking fascist nightmares, Team Rite of Passage is also, but maybe just Zelensky, but in that awkward Teen Beat poster on the ceiling sort of way.
How dare Team Rite of Passage be so cool, young, sincere, and accomplished? They’re like Mozart, but twice as old, half as smart, and not dead. That’s all the shade we have to throw: You’re alive, and not Mozart. If we had a glove we’d take it off and flap your face with it.
Their boat? A Santa Cruz 27 that WA360’d because the border was closed and we all did what we could do. What can we say? It’s a goodly race boat that used to be named Shazam, is now named Nicodemus, … and why won’t any of those people return our calls? We started this thing for chrissakes. We’re on the Tiktok, we do the macarena…
Welcome to the R2AK Team Rite of Passage. Stop flossing. Now. We mean it.