Father-son adventurers Laurence Sunderland and Zac Sunderland had a roller-coaster Leg on Sunday (Nov. 13) night’s “Amazing Race.”
As the episode began, Laurence and Zac made a gutsy decision to deviate from the travel plans booked by the producers, opting to go to Copenhagen via London, alone. That gamble resulted in a three-hour lead, which promptly vanished when nearly all of the teams were left waiting overnight for a church to open.
Then they seemed to have put themselves in jeopardy when Zac struggled with a dancing Roadblock and they ran the risk of more difficulties when they were U-Turned by Bill & Cathi. But even after completing both ends of the Detour, Laurence and Zac seemed headed for safety due to a snakebitten leg for Jeremy & Sandy.
Instead, Laurence and Zac got lost going out of the Detour and weren’t able to navigate themselves to the Pit Stop in time.
In our exit interview, Laurence & Zac discussed their team dynamic, Zac’s dancing and Laurence’s maligned sewing comments.
HitFix: So my normal first question in these interviews… How did you guys watch the episode on Sunday?
Zac Sunderland: I had a little party at my place, bunch of friends over. Yeah, just watched the Race.
Laurence Sunderland: I was with Kaylani and a couple other Race enthusiasts. Kaylani, who was eliminated third with Lisa.
HitFix: How did people react to seeing your elimination?
Laurence: They cried. No, I’m kidding…
Zac: Some of them didn’t notice. Others did. No one knew I was getting off the Race, so it surprised everyone, because they were watching the line, seeing if we were gonna scrape by again, because we’d had a couple… not close to elimination, but we were in the back half of the pack close to the end and then some people got turned around and ended up in a better place or there was some rule people didn’t abide, so right up to the end, it was a little on the edge with us.
HitFix: Given the number of early-Race Non-Elimination Legs this season, when you guys got to Phil did you have any hope that there might be still one last reprieve for you?
Zac: Yeah, we were definitely holding onto that hope that someone got lost as bad as we did or that there was some rule broken or anything to stay in the Race. It was a really fun thing and we didn’t want to be going home any time soon.
HitFix: How did all of those Non-Elimination Legs impact the flow of the race from your point of view? Did it feel different or unusual based on what you’d seen previously on TV?
Zac: For me, yeah. We’d watched quite a bit of the Race and we’d never seen that many Non-Elimination Legs. It was kinda crazy. They kept coming up and a lot of the people who would have been eliminated made it through a lot further. Marcus & Amani, they would have been eliminated, but they made it through.
Laurence: And the people who U-Turned us, Bill and Cathi would have been eliminated as well.
Zac: Yeah. It’s kinda interesting the way it made the Race with a lot of people getting second chances.
HitFix: You guys made that big move on Sunday’s episode where you were the only team to fly through London. How frustrating was it that that ended up not being any kind of advantage?
Laurence: When you make a move like that, it’s always risky because you’re doing it alone and then it’s a little frustrating, but I think a lot of the Race is designed to be frustrating to figure out how you react with that. So yeah, we just took it in our stride. Getting overly frustrated about any part of the Race is not going to serve anybody well. It might make for good television, but it doesn’t doesn’t serve anybody. So we try to keep the frustration to a minimum, but yeah, it definitely was frustrating to see a three-and-a-half hour lead be diminished to nothing.
HitFix: Laurence, you mentioned that this was a move you made on your own, but it seemed like there was some tension with Ernie and Cindy about the keeping of that secret. Why was it important that this was something that only you guys did?
Laurence: When we got all of the information from the lady at the ticket counter, it seemed pretty clear that we were gonna arrive at least three hours ahead of everybody else. Barring any delays, of course. Who knows what could happen in London, but barring any delays, it seemed pretty secure that we were going to arrive earlier than anybody else. Once we felt comfortable with that, we didn’t want to share that with Ernie and Cindy, as a time that we’d not worked together with, really. We liked them and they were friendly and stuff, but we hadn’t worked with them. Had it been Tommy and Andy, we probably would have been more apt to sharing. We’d shared a lot with each other during the Race and arrived at the mat almost simultaneously on two or three occasions and we helped them out and we probably would have been ready to work with them more than Ernie and Cindy, who we hadn’t worked with.
Zac: Yeah, we hadn’t really come to challenges at the same time as them. We had some loose alliances with a couple other teams, where if we came to a challenge together, we’d help each other out, but as the Race progressed, it’s every man for themselves, every team for themselves. It got more competitive, so not telling somebody about a cool flight you found that puts you in three hours before them? You’ve gotta be playing for the million dollars. It’s a Race.
HitFix: So it was just a product of not having worked with them before and not tension? Because it looked like you guys also had a little tension with Jeremy and Sandy. Was that also just not working with them, rather than actual tension?
Laurence: Jeremy and Sandy, we got along well with them. She reacted a little bit differently to a comment that I made about sewing in Africa. It wasn’t anything… And actually the day before that, Sandy and I had been working together trying to find the place to drop off the guy who was riding on the back of our bicycle..
HitFix: Since you brought it up, how did you think that the sewing joke that you made looked when it played out on TV?
Laurence: Well, I don’t recall watching it on TV, to be honest with you. I’ve just heard the fall-out from it. The reality of it is it was nothing meant in a harsh way. It was just kinda a jest more than anything else, a bit of the old English sense of humor coming out out, I guess. I think it was taking by Sandy the wrong way, from what I’ve heard. She rolled her eyes. But the reality is that she’s a nurse and sews people up, so sewing would have, I felt, would have been something they would have gone for. But there was nothing really meant to stir stuff up in any negative way, really.
HitFix: Going back to the departure out of the Detour in Denmark, the thing that eventually led to your elimination… What actually happened there? It was a little hard to tell what went wrong and where.
Laurence: We were trying to find our way back to Copenhagen and we’d been given some directions and we wanted to verify those directions. We basically got misinformation after misinformation and then sometimes no information when we were asking for it and right up until we parked the car literally blocks away, we were asking people trying to verify information. It was very challenging trying to find the place. And we were very exhausted at that stage. We’d just flown in from Malawi and we’d been flying a long time. We hadn’t slept much the night before. We hadn’t eaten anything that day. And we were getting a little tired having done both sides of the U-Turn, so we probably weren’t on our best form that day.
HitFix: Speaking of the U-Turn, do you have a sense of why Bill and Cathi chose to use it on you, rather than several of the other teams that were also behind them?
Laurence: Yeah, we were the best-looking team.
Zac: It was kinda shock to see our faces up there, because there were a couple other teams we’d have thought would have been more of a threat. I would have thought they would have aimed for someone at the back or one of the teams that has been consistently winning, but that’s just what they chose in the moment there and we didn’t overthink it at the time. We just had to get on, do the other side of the course and jump some rabbits.
HitFix: Do you guys attribute your elimination to the U-Turning? Or do you figure it was the wrong turns and misinformation coming out of the Detour?
Zac: There were a bunch of things that kinda contributed to it. The Roadblock dancing took me a little while longer and then there was the Detour and then getting lost just finished us up there. Up until leaving, we were in a place where we still could have come in and not been eliminated.
HitFix: So Zac, how did your friends react to watching you do the dancing Roadblock?
Zac: I was on the balcony at that time, because I didn’t want to see myself in tights and makeup. I tried to make sure that all of the girls were out there, too. But yeah, that worked out pretty well. It was hard to watch, memories of that. I didn’t want to relive that. But it happens and I got out of it as quickly as I could and the Race went on.
HitFix: And then you’re sitting there after the Roadblock and you have your father sitting there saying he probably would have done it faster. What was going through your mind at that point?
Zac: Ah… Well… He probably could have. I don’t know. It was just in the moment there, there was jet-lag, plus I’ve never done any choreographed dancing, so having to memorize three dancing, each with 20-something steps, to get the next clue was really crazy. When I originally signed up for the Race, I thought it was gonna be more jumping out of planes and adrenaline stuff. So that was what was on the other side of what I was going for.
HitFix: What did you guys learn about each other from doing this Race together?
Zac: We’ve been in a lot of adventure situations around the world, different countries dealing with stuff, so we work together real well and I’m glad we got to use the skills we’ve learned in adventures in other countries. But yeah… We just stayed true to our plan: Positive mental attitude, don’t freak out about stuff. And it worked out pretty well.
HitFix: So there weren’t anything things you learned about your father in this particular circumstance?
Zac: We’ve spent a lot of time in closed areas with yacht deliveries and stuff. That’s living on a 50-foot boat for a couple of weeks. So we’ve been in close proximity for a while. But we worked real well together and that’s what I took away from it, how we could set our minds to something and both take it out.
HitFix: And Laurence?
Laurence: We both put all of our effort into things and when things get tough, we don’t pull against each other. We pull in the same direction. We kinda discussed this before going into it. We watched several episodes and what we realized was once people started getting antagonist with each other, they lose their focus and that generally leads to their demise within the Race and they get booted off. And we decided that it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, but we should make sure that we’re both pulling in the same direction. I’m sure there were times when I said things and Zac didn’t agree with them and vice versa, but we decided to just override those and continue to pull in the same direction, even in the head of the moment.
HitFix: How about the other side of the equation. Have you learned anything about yourselves from watching the show on TV and sort of seeing how you come across in these circumstances?
Laurence: Yeah, I noticed that TV is supposed to put 10 pounds on a person, but it put 30 pounds on me. And I’m a lot funnier in person than I am on television. You tend to me more critical of yourself when you watch yourself on TV. There was stuff that could have been left in where we were having a good time, but it wasn’t there.
Zac: It was kind cool to see other people’s perspectives on the whole thing and see what other people were going through at the same time we were, how the dealt with the different situations and how long it took them to get things done. A lot of that stuff you really don’t get to talk to the other teams about or you might get a brief explanation on a plane or heard a story about something they went through. It was cool to see that. But watching ourselves on TV, it was interesting, seeing what it looked like in the different situations when we were just all about then task at hand and see what we were looking like. But yeah, it pretty much happened exactly how it happened when I was there.
HitFix: Thanks so much, guys.
Laurence: Would you be able to put our websites on the article?
HitFix: Absolutely. Give me some URLs.
Laurence: Mine is WorldWindProductions.com.
Zac: And my website’s ZacSunderland.com and it’s got my blog and a bunch of travel videos up there from adventures I’ve done.
Previous “Amazing Race” exit interviews…