Team Budgie Smugglers

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Team members: Graham Shaw, Tom Bohanon, Jon Hodges, Dave Becker, Dan Melaugh
Hometown: Powell River, British Columbia, CA
Race vessel: Shaw 34 Catamaran
LOA: 33′ 6″
Human propulsion: Row

Like children, Michael Bolton songs, and Kardashians, here in the R2AK command bunker there is an unwritten rule that we don’t have favorite teams. We do have least favorite ones, and given their entirely competent and proven nature, Team Budgie Smugglers are far from front runners for our least favorite team of 2023. 

Proven? Their crew are talented sailors, R2AK veterans, and they have decided on tackling the extreme nature of this bare knuckle battle with the wild coast on a boat that amounts to a floating living room. The Shaw 34 Catamaran did the race in 2018 and during a close quarter battle on Day 1, the team spent equal attention to the pairing of wine and appetizers as they did with going anywhere. Buffet2Alaska.  

On top of their low risk,the thing about Team Budgie Smugglers for the race organizers is their name. Two reasons: 

  1. While in North America we call them Banana Hammocks, a Budgie Smuggler is what Aussies call speedos on men. Speedos make us laugh.
  2. It’s a way better name than the last two times they entered as Team Ptarmigan. Silent “P”s make us angry. 

We sat down with Dave Becker, Tom “Bo” Bohanon and Graham Shaw, over a bowl of expired vegemite to talk about Harry Potter, least favorite children, and how many budgies one could smuggle in one go if they really set their mind to it.

What are the necessary components of a good adventure?

Graham: As the now controversial JK Rowling said about the friendship between Hermione and Harry…There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them. Pretty sure finishing R2AK is another.

What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?

Graham: It’s better not to hit things (like rocks or channel markers or logs). Good to keep the full crew on board too.

Bo: Reef early. Unless you’re racing.

It’s drizzling, freezing cold, and you’ve missed the tide. The cabin is leaky and the stove won’t light. How do you keep the good vibes going?

Dave: Crack open a beer, hit the volume on good solid tunes “Seven Nation Army” The White Stripes, and pedal

Graham: Sounds like business as usual in the R2AK – except that now we will make sure that the cabin doesn’t leak and we’ll have a few spare stoves.

Bo: Break out the pot, and row harder.

Forget the 10k or the steak knives. What does success look like for you and your team?

Bo: It’s all about having a good time. A nice competitive race would for sure be part of that. All of us being friends at the end of the race would be the most important part.

Graham: We are all happy with most of our decisions and get to the free beer on the dock without wrecking the boat or anyone. Nice if we get to race closely with another competitor for a while too.

Defend your vessel. What makes it worthy?

Dave: Handmade by the best Scottish, Canadian and Aussie boat builder.

Bo: The track record for this boat speaks for itself! Designed and built by the owner? Sailed from Australia to British Columbia? Our arch rivals during 2018 R2AK? I can’t think of a boat I would rather be on.

Blank space, baby. Share some things:

Graham: The origin of the budgie smuggler name is a skit by the wonderful John Clarke referencing an Aussie who swam the English channel without a lot of support. We see a parallel with sailing to Alaska with no motor on board. We think the visuals are kind of entertaining too.

Dave: The boat owner and team leader, doesn’t want the team to get too excited over the $10,000, or bringing over the Aussie favorites like the Tim Tams, Haigh’s chocolate, Vegemite, Fosters (more to the point Coopers) or a fine Shiraz from the Barossa. The whole team is on strict instructions to pack light. So, we can only have our budgie smugglers, a beanie (touque), and if we are lucky a towel and/or a thermal jumper. 

Bo: There is only one real question about the race this year. Will the Budgie Smugglers pose in full uniform?


Welcome back to the R2AK Team Budgie Smugglers. It can get cold out there. Our advice: pack some fleece ones and/or an extra budgie.