Team Stern Wheelin

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Team members: Lionel Jensen, Randolph Jensen, James Laton
Hometown: Chilliwack, BC, Canada
Race vessel: MacGregor 26D Monohull
LOA: 26′
Human propulsion: An enormous paddlewheel driven by a bike pedal station
Connect: instagram


TL;DR: Nazis, Lisa Bonet, Mark Twain, dead cats, live tortoises, long uncorrected mistakes, and the unemployability of academics.

In the era where Avengers are killing more box office records than supervillains, hardly anyone remembers the workaday DC superheroes from days when the ‘book’ part of comic books defined the genre. Sure, Aquaman, ripped and hunky and previously married to Lisa Bonet, makes the spotlight, but he can talk to fish—and did we mention he was married to Lisa Bonet?

What about Green Lantern? Test pilot Hal Jordan chosen by a dying alien to wear the ring that gave him power to do just about anything. Really, an-y-thing: turning himself into an envelope and mailing himself to his enemies, fighting Nazis with a giant cupid of his own creation, manifesting an ethereal dolphin for Aquaman to ride through the air—anything, as long as he had that ring. Without the ring? Just a broken down test pilot with echoes of 9G nosedives and alien-infused glory mixed with night terrors and years of therapy. With the ring: he could (and did) fly through space on a pirate ship. Don’t mess with Green Lantern with a ring on; you have no idea what acid trip brutality he could unleash.

One ring ruled them all.

If you think of every boat as a superhero (and apparently we do) every boat has its own power. The M32 that set the record in 2016: speed. 2017’s Team Heart of Gold: SUP a human to Alaska. Team Dock Rat’s 2018 bid on a Haida 26: the ability to go so aground that you could walk around it, then refloat, then finish months after the cutoff and get a job slinging drinks in a Ketchikan bar. Point is, each boat, each team has a magic ring kind of super power driven by who they are and the boat they roll with.

Then there is Team Stern Wheelin’.

With the dynamic father/son duo, it’s hard to know where to start other than we are impressed, but in that eyebrow raised sort of way. Just when we thought we’d seen all of the versions of bad ideas, this team might just be our test pilots for how far you can go when you choose a proven boat then strip it of all of the superpowers it was designed with.

Team Stern Wheelin’ does for boats the same lunacy as taking the wings off a plane to make it street legal.

For the uninitiated, the MacGregor 26 is the Sean Hannity of the boating world—you either love it with a passion or you want to throw rocks at it to make it go away. MacGregors are a famed combo of sailing well enough to enjoy the day and then the 50–75 horsepower outboard to jam along at 15 knots when the conditions get unfavorable/boring, or you think it’s a blasphemous aberration of the sailing world’s ‘The journey is the destination’ religious justification of their need to zig-zag to nowhere slowly. The MacGregor is way too practical. No wind? The Honda 50 will get you to the anchorage four Budweisers before the sweater-wearing suckers in that wind-driven anachronism.

Which begs the question: why in god’s name would you enter a MacGregor in an engineless race to anywhere, let alone to Alaska? Like Green Lantern swapping out for a mood ring right before his battle with Satan, Team Stern Wheelin’ has replaced their Honda 50 with a human-powered paddlewheel. Paddlewheel, like a Mark Twain-themed Mississippi casino boat but without the steam power and gambling.

The line between madness and greatness has never been so blurry.

Given their singular passion and experience, we can only assume that casting off their superpower is part of some rope-a-dope strategy to psyche out the competition. Between the two of them, Team Stern Wheelin’s father/son team has at least three trips up the Inside Passage, multiple decades of racing successfully on a bevy of boats across the swath of Canada that stretches from Nanaimo to Lake Alberta, and have climbed mountains to build their tolerance for austerity and leg muscles needed to power their paddlewheel and make up for at least a portion of the 50 horsepower their boat was designed to rocket with. Best part: this wasn’t an accident; they purchased the boat specifically for the R2AK and entered it in 2019. They were a crowd and end-of-pack favorite who took the first known mid-race break to fly to the middle of Canada and graduate from their PhD program in Virology, then fly back, and rejoin the race—square hat, robes, and all. While they didn’t win the race, their bowing out was referred to by some as “Schrödingering the R2AK”: by dropping out, their bid for R2AK glory was both simultaneously dead and very much alive. Plus, he’s got a PhD in Virology: Starbucks has a very generous leave policy.

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Stern Wheelin’, Remember: if you just go halfway each day, you’ll never beat that tortoise. QED.


NEW UPDATE we stand by
Yes, they added a third crew—James Laton—described as, “Stunningly handsome with ocean blue eyes, hazelnut brown hair, 5’10 with a muscular build, robust shoulders, and a smile to kill.” We don’t write about those people, but we welcome him too.

OLD UPDATE we still stand by
In a proof/acknowledgment that the internet is as forgiving as we are accurate, we would like everyone to know that there are four very important things that everyone reading this should understand:

  1. We understand that the MacGregor that we now have a picture of is not the 50 HP outboard kind like literally every MacGregor that we have ever come across.
  2. The MacGregor advocate network is accurate, unyielding, and impressive.
  3. We are flummoxed as to why anyone would buy a non-50 HP MacGregor.
  4. We think it’s funny. We’re leaving it. Yes, again. We can’t learn.