The first ever rowing race across the Pacific, the Great Pacific Race, started precisely on schedule at 10am today with a shot from a cannon and a blast from a conch shell.
It was a beautiful Monterey morning, with bright sunshine sparkling off the gentle blue swells of the ocean. Seals barked from the harbour wall, and seagulls swooped down on pickings from the fleet of fishing boats that bristled on the horizon.
Half a dozen sailboats from the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club milled around the multicoloured rowboats as they waited behind the start line. The voice of the Race Director, Chris Martin, crackled over Channel 68 on the VHF radio, counting down the last 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3, 2, 1 minute.
The clock clicked to 10am, the cannon went, and they were off!
Seats slid, oars dipped, boats moved forward. Uniting Nations got off to a fine start, echoing their winning form in the prologue event. Clearly Contacts also got a good start, veering to the offshore side of the fishing boats. Other boats went off at different speeds and different courses, emphasising the fact that, although this is a race, the crews are unlikely to see each other after the first couple of hours.
Sadly, not all our crews were on the start line. Of the 13 boats slated to compete in the race, 11 were there, of which 4 boats returned to port according to a predetermined plan to clear pre-race checks.
Chris Martin said, “Of course we would have loved to have all boats off and racing today, but safety is our paramount concern and all crews must pass our rigorous scrutineering process before we can clear them to go.”
Two more crews plan to depart either later today or early tomorrow. After that, the weather window closes. The crews need several days of relatively light winds in order to get safely clear of the coast, and the forecasts show no opportunities opening up in the next couple of weeks, although long-term forecasts are always subject to change.
But meanwhile, the first ever Great Pacific Race is underway. We wish our crews fair winds and following winds, and every great success!
You can follow the crews’ progress here on greatpacificrow.com, on our race tracker.
Jim Bauer’s Row For Hope
At race start but turned back, and due to set out again later on 9th June or early on 10th June:
Rowing4Reefs (Daryl Farmer)
At race start but turned back, and due to set out at later date TBC:
Not at today’s race start, will start at later date TBC: