Stage 2, day 3: Seymour yawned, everyone finds their race, Team Barely Heumann allegedly sang karaoke.

By all accounts Seymour Narrows is one of the few made guys in the R2AK mafia. There’s never been enough evidence to convict, but Seymour has a well earned reputation as a tidal maelstrom with a rap sheet a mile long that includes massive whirlpools that suck under humans and small boats alike. When all of that current runs against the winds that funnel down its steep canyon walls, we’ve seen boat-breaking waves and complex and confused current that send engined and engineless boats alike into its rocky shores. The biggest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history might have taken it down a notch or two, but it’s still worthy of Don level respect.

Except for today.

As dawn broke on R2AK’s second day, it became clear to everyone on both sides of our application that we had very little of either. Better luck next year.

Weak tides of the mid-lunar cycle combined with a break in the weather, and Seymour Narrows was downgraded from mafia hitman to water park lazy river. Max current today? A yawning 4 knots. Not nothing, especially for teams trying to pedal against it (BECAUSE THERE WAS NO WIND), but far from the 15 knots of current against 20 knots of wind “adult diapers and a dry suit” Seymour shotgun blasts we’ve seen in most years.

“I don’t even have to use Slow Mo,” remarked the sole member of the R2AK video crew not prone to heckling. (Yes, we have one. One.)

They were right—it was a lot of nothing, for hours. Today, Seymour was neither a shower nor a grower, and suffered from the kind of narrows performance anxiety that happens to all narrows at some time in their life. It’s ok, we can try again later. 

Seymour was a non-story, and as of sunset on Day 3, 13 teams had successfully awheemowet-ed past Seymour’s sleeping lion, with another eight ready to pounce at the next opportunity. 

Trash-talking nature with dated musical references notwithstanding, Team Malolo is still in front, and at time of writing had regained ground to establish a 15+ mile lead over the closest team. But 400 miles and an unknown number of logs still stand in the way of the New York Times calling it a presumptive victory. We’ve been here before and no one is resting easy. 

While nature may have taken another mental health day to work on itself, R2AK ‘24 is dripping with excitement as teams are finding their own races inside of the race. 

The fastest is the trail pack of Teams Hulabaloo, Stranger Danger, Brio, and Narrows Minded, whose tight competition is pushing themselves collectively north. After the restart at Seymour’s tidal gate, the four-way threat to victory and steak knives continue to duke it out and swap leads from Seymour Narrows to Queen Charlotte Sound. At time of posting Team Hulabaloo leads Team Stranger Danger by a couple of miles, but had lost, won, lost, and then led again over the course of the last 24 hours. Images and reports get scarcer and scarcer the more they punch into the wilds of the BC coast and cell service goes from annoyingly slow to goddammit zero, but this is the group to sporadically watch as the spotty reports come in. Three tris and a Shock 40 monohull whose canting-keel, showroom model, won the whole damned thing against Team Malolo in 2022. Conventional wisdom is that the monohull is better upwind and offers ⅓ of the exposure to logs. In light air, Team Stranger Danger’s advantage should come from motor sailing with its pedal system, which has at this point lost a crucial drive belt. Amongst their crew is six-time R2AK veteran and professional mariner, Katy Stewart, who has been haranguing everyone she can call via radio and general shouting—from the Alaska State Ferry system to passing mega yacht—to secure a belt drop as they pass. Totally legal in the rules as it wasn’t prearranged. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming days, but so far everyone she has contacted has given her some version of “New boat, who dis?” 

Only slightly behind is the clangity-clang sword fight between two versions of R2AK’s rising generation: Teams Rock the Boat and Roscoe Pickle Train. If you take away their high-caliber sailing chops, we couldn’t imagine two more different sets of humans on such similar boats, sailing this competitively with each other, for this long. Both are on SC-27s, both are absolutely crushing it, but that’s largely where the similarities end. One team is obsessed with eating cookies, the other might just as predictably crush them up and rub them in their junk to see what would happen, like some Animal House frat party at Lord of the Flies University. (And no, we don’t want to see the video.)

But there they are, racing together, tack on tack, for dozens of miles.  Team Rock the Boat somehow unable to escape the gravitational pull of the sheer density of crusty human funk that is Team Roscoe Pickle Train. Our advice to the Boat Rockers: stay upwind, and if you see them in the trapeze, look away. 

On top of all that there were at least a few clickbait headlines worth reporting on:

  • NUDITY: Team Not So Fast had a repair that needed diving on, and we all saw their bum. 
  • VOMITING: Team Boogie Barge had a sick crew, hopefully getting better. Hopes, prayers, and socialized medicine. 
  • BBQ: Just kidding, apparently Team Sailor Swift let one day go by without firing up the grill on Instagram. #lazy
  • BEER: At the tail end of this tiger, Team Barely Heumann looks to have spent 12 hours and counting at Nanaimo’s Dinghy Dock Pub—a cruising boat staple that is only accessible by dinghy, most of which are longer than TBH’s pedaled craft. We assume he was refueling his 6,000 calorie daily need with beer, burgers and fries, but have an as yet unrealised fear that his boat was mistaken for a floating takeout container. 

By the time you read this Team Malolo should have made the one right turn of the entire course, rounding Cape Caution and setting its taser to “North.” It’s 400 miles to go for Malolo, the trail pack nipping at their heels and hoping for logs, and Team Barely Heumann presumably hanging on for last call at the Dinghy Dock Pub’s karaoke night. For what it’s worth, we request Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” , or anything from the Wayne Tater discography, live streamed for the masses. Give the people what they want. 

Whatever the truth actually is, at least for the first whack finishers we’re about to downshift into the homestretch of R2AK 8. Strap in, and don’t stop believing.

R2AK out. 

Cuts From Course@200x

While we can’t speak for Wayne himself, we have heard from a few of you who took offense at Mr. Tater’s song “Sayonara Victoria.” It seems that Canada and Wayne have had a bit of a falling out, and he’s trying to make amends. We give you today’s R2AK soundtrack: “Canada, Take Me Back.” For our fans stateside, you’ll need to understand a base level of the cultural significance of Tim Horton’s. Do the work.

Header photo by Taylor Bayly