Team Dogsmile Adventure

More bios

Team members: Gabe Mills, Jay Taft, Jon Totten, David Kilmer
Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, ID, USA
Race vessel: 1996 Corsair F27 Trimaran
LOA: 27′
Human propulsion: Pedal (prop)
Connect: facebook, youtube

Okay, we’ll come clean.

When we first saw Team Dogsmile Adventures’ application we thought: What could someone possibly be doing with a sailing program in Idaho? Those amber waves of grain are metaphorical, folks. But it turns out, the cerulean waves of the Idahoan lakes are decidedly literal – and rather breathtaking. It’s not our fault the potatoes hog all the spotlight, that the Idaho Tourism Board are gatekeepers, or that we never paid attention in Social Studies.

And what Team Dogsmile Adventures is doing on those secret Idahoan lakes is running their own Robin Hood School of Therapeutic Sailing. It’s all very “charter from the rich, sail with the underserved, and do it while wearing matching outfits with your squad of BFFs.” Dogsmile Adventures specializes in providing blue therapy sailing adventures for the folks who need it most: veterans, survivors of domestic violence, underserved youth, folks with disabilities, people with substance use disorders, and more. If you face a barrier to getting out into nature and out onto the water–Dogsmile Adventures is there to take you sailing, and do it for free. And while we’re Race to Alaska, and our whole thing is being casual malcontents – even we have to admit that’s pretty rad.

So we sat down with Team Dogsmile Adventures over a bowl of human teeth to talk about inventing history, night vision, and what it feels like to be a good person.

What are the necessary components of a good adventure?

Ernest Hemingway said “there are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, mountaineering, and racing small engineless boats to Alaska; all the rest are merely games.” The part about boats got left out of the historical record, but I’m sure that’s what he meant. That ethos pretty much covers it. 

What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?

All lines are the same color in the light of a red headlamp. When you are trying to unf*ck three head sails worth of rope on the fordeck at 2am in 20 knots just turn on the white light, night vision be damned.

What’s your favorite kind of bracket?

The ones that hold my rudder on. I figure I can make do without most of the rest of my bracket collection, but those ones I’m really fond of. 

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?

These are all good things. These are the conditions that discourage a reasonable person, and when reasonable people are discouraged they slow down. So it’s a golden opportunity to make up ground by continuing to try really hard. That’s what I tell the crew. Remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it. 

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

Success is achieved the moment we leave Port Townsend.  The barriers between people and sailing all float away as soon as the last line is cast.  We’re working to bring sailing to under-resourced populations.  We, as individuals, are not under-resourced.  The least we can do is show up and sail/pedal our asses to Alaska.  Winning is doing the thing.  That said, each of our boats could use a good steak knife. And it would be really nice if all three hulls are still in formation and pointy at the finish. 

Defend your vessel. What makes it worthy?

The Corsair F27 is a hall of fame sailboat for a reason. It was designed by a Kiwi, and they seem to know a thing or two about sailboats. It’s fast, seaworthy, and durable. It goes in and out of the water at any old boat ramp in under an hour. It has an actual cabin that you can sleep, cook, and use the head in. It’s a reasonably affordable craft by boat standards. And most importantly Mahana has that spark in her fiberglass and aluminum soul that humans who go to sea know to be real. She wants to go fast and she takes care of her crew.

Blank space, baby. Share some things:

Aside from the pure adventure, raising awareness for the Dogsmile Adventures therapeutic sailing program is a big reason we’re doing this race. Awareness is hard to measure; but we’re confident that the R2AK media machine will help us connect with the larger sailing community.


Welcome to R2AK, Team Dogsmile. Thanks for coming to our version of blue therapy, which is more like a “Russian banya where they whack you with branches” kind of blue therapy, but we think you’ll love it.