Team Ruf Duck

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Team members: Jeff Oaklief, Mike Hummels, Mark Endicott, Mike Brown, Jonah Oaklief
Hometown: Manhattan, KS, USA
Race vessel: Farrier F9R Trimaran
LOA: 31′
Human propulsion: Ducted Fan
Connect: facebook

Check out this R2AK podcast episode with Jeff from Team Ruf Duck


TL;DR: Masonic conspiracy, ageism, human sacrifice, apocalypse-based gambling, and a light mockery of Kansas.

Despite what it looks like, we don’t let just anyone into the R2AK, and we say “we” loosely.

Deep in the R2AK command bunker is the restricted and heavily guarded, restricted access vault containing the vetting committee—a group of maritime pros who are so secret we don’t even know who they are. They’re R2AK’s deep state, 33rd-level Masons, who we’re pretty sure start their meetings with ritual chalices filled with champagne and adrenochrome.

From what we can tell, these R2AK elite, who may or may not have monocles, squint hard at every application looking for key traits and attributes: sailing ability, adventure experience, clever name, an interesting backstory, and/or some connection to philanthropy and an inclination to support our parent non-profit (Northwest Maritime Center, in case your financial advisor needs to know). Reverse engineering it from the results, there seem to be telltale attributes that nudge teams from “No way in hell” to “Why the hell not?” From what we hear from the Mr. Peanut/Monopoly-spectacled shadow government that actually make these calls, the most important thing about getting past R2AK’s vetting committee and into the race is that this secret group of adult diapered and bath-robed Illuminati have to be sure that you have what it takes not to die.

Sure, we’re all going to someday, and the argument has been made that prevention’s a moot point considering the multiple paths to apocalypse we’re in. Even in a year when Vegas is taking bets on whether it’s climate extinction, proto-nuclear war, or zombies—call us old-fashioned, but our goal is to not enable an early offramp.

We think of the vetting committee as Darwin’s bouncers.

The Ruf Duckers hail from the great seafaring state of Kansas. Nothing against that land-of-Dorothy, shoebox-shaped state in the wheated-middle of our glutenous nation, but you wouldn’t go to Bella Bella to learn about wheat farming, so the monocled eyebrows went from furrowed to skeptical when a band of Wildcats submitted their application. It’s a rare Kansas baby that comes out the chute with sailing as a standard option genetic code.

Except for Jonah.

Described by his teammates as a “one-year-old Labrador with the reflexes of a weasel”, at 21 Jonah is either an R2AK-gate sacrifice to be harvested at the start line or the Breadbasket State’s best non-wheat export as their best bet for R2AK glory. Experience: Sailing in the PNW since he was in utero, Jonah has broken his Kansan orbit and landed in the sailing part of Seattle, working as a sailing instructor at Sail Sand Point and taking training laps with Team Ruf Duck in WA360 and other regional races. Other than sailing, his chief skill seems to be tolerating old guys.

The rest of the Team have a little more patina on their enthusiasm. Not only did they produce photographic evidence that they’ve been getting into and out of trouble together since 1976, somehow their Kansas based lives have amassed a lifetime of sailing experience in and around the Inside Passage, SF Bay, California Coast, not to mention they started an accredited sailing course at KSU—while sophomores in high school. Add to the watery stuff a ton of outdoor experience: mountain biking Denali, marathons, century rides, not to mention this team also boasts an EMT and a horse doctor to keep Darwin at bay.

You win this time, Kansas.

Their boat is a yellow F-31 trimaran. What can we say? This homemade Farrier is fast, yellow, and proven. They drove it so hard in a recent Van Isle 360 that it broke a mast in Johnstone Strait and lived to tell the tale. The pedal drives are even experienced—they R2AK’d in 2019 on Team Narwhal and then hung Tuf as Team Ruf Duck endured in the windless sufferfest that was the first 5 days of WA360’s floating bike race.*

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Ruf Duck. May your great plains experience serve you well on the inside passage; the only surface with the potential to be flatter than Kansas.


*In case you are new here, WA360 was R2AK’s pandemic lockdown incarnate that we ran when the Canadians wanted nothing to do with our COVID-riddled country. There was so little wind that a human-powered craft was winning for three of the four days.