“We wouldn’t want to jeopardise finishing for winning.” Wise words from James Wight, aged 36, of Team Pacific Rowers. He and his three teammates – Fraser Hart (34), Sam Collins (25) and Colin Parker (36) would love to place well in the Great Pacific Race, but recognise that pressing hard for speed can potentially lead to poor decisions and endanger lives. “You have to decide if you’re a Cracknell or a Fogle,” he adds, referring to the Olympic gold medallist and the TV presenter who rowed the Atlantic in 2005, the former determined to win at all costs, the latter just wanting to have a good adventure. Unfortunately they were both in the same boat, which led to considerable friction when their goals clashed.
The Pacific Rowers formed around the core of Fraser and Colin, who have been friends for over 20 years. Sam was recruited via the Meet My Crew event in London last year – a great way for any aspiring ocean rowers to team up with like-minded individuals – and a couple of months later James was brought in to complete the line-up.
The crew is eager to get the boat ready and afloat, but sadly the Britannia 4 is currently stranded a frustrating hundred miles away in Oakland, pending release by the shipping company. They hope she will arrive in Monterey in the next couple of days, when they will have to swing into action sharpish to get her ready and pass scrutineering by the scheduled race start date this Saturday.
Meanwhile they have been using their time well to bond as a team, mostly by shooting hoops and evolving their unique brand of bantering humour, which will surely stand them in good stead once at sea, as will their 3 terabytes of audio entertainment (including Ali G) and 2 litres of rum.
Their biggest fears include storms, collisions with container ships, sharks, and serious equipment failure. On the upside, they are looking forward to relishing the beauty of ocean sunrises, sunsets, starscapes, and phosphorescence. They plan to capture that beauty using their 4 Go Pro cameras, one SLR, one compact camera, and/or 3 smartphones (Sam lost his smartphone yesterday :-( ).
They are also looking forward to some fishing, hoping to catch dorado, mackerel and squid as they go. They confess to having “all the gear, no idea”, but this is surely a golden opportunity to hone their skills – and if all else fails, they might get lucky and have a few flying fish land on board.
We wish them fair winds, following seas, and “Tips up and tight lines!”