Day 8 Race Report

Posted on June 17, 2014 in Battleborn, Boatylicious, CC4 Pacific, Elsa Hammond, Fat Chance, General, Great Pacific Race 2014, Jim Bauer’s Row for Hope, NOMAN, Pacific Warriors, Project Flight Plan, Rowing 4 Reefs, Team Pacific Rowers, Uniting Nations


Race Director Chris Martin has been playing double duty in the week since the official start of the Great Pacific Race on June 9, 2014. He has been keeping a watchful eye over those at sea as well as assisting with preparations for those still ashore. The news from the crews rowing are the highlights of his day. Martin said that getting the updates brings back vivid memories for him about what it was like out there rowing across an ocean. He can sympathize with the harsh conditions these crews have been facing, and he also knows from experience, as well as the weather reports, that calmer times are coming for these crews. They just have to hang in there a bit longer. “I remember how brilliant it feels when the ocean helps you out” Martin said with a bit of a far away look in his eye.

It becomes a relationship or romance between the rowers, the ocean and their boat. Philip Cavanagh of Battleborn wrote in a recent blog:

“I’ve also found a new love in my life. Patience is an absolutely unbelievable boat who we have full faith in. To see her first hand surfing up and down 25-30ft waves without a care in the world is pretty special. She’s the reason we’re getting across, we’re just doing the heavy duty stuff. Simon [Chalk] if you’re reading this, if we win can I keep her?”

The ocean has used and abused our teams during this first week, and still the romance with the open water keeps them going. Our front runners of Uniting Nations and Battleborn have been stricken with many issues, as earlier reported. We have recently learned that Uniting Nations have switched to their hand pump in order to desalinate water to make it potable after their electric watermaker went on the fritz. Whilst they fix the unit they are using the hand pump watermaker meaning that one crew will either have to stop rowing or sacrifice their rest period in order to use hand power to desalinate water. Their other major issue is that they currently find their food “unpalatable” and are struggling to eat enough. We reminded them to eat the freeze dried food hot instead of cold, and maybe add a few condiments to enhance the flavor.

Our three top teams have clocked between 28 and 41 NM in the last 24 hours as they seek out the trade winds to carry them to the islands. According to weather reports, the seas will calm for them in the coming days and the swells will flatten from the house and building height being reported, to around 4-6 foot swells.

The next grouping of rowers have a bit further to go before the ocean eases up on them. In looking at the Yellowbrick tracker, it is as if there is an imaginary line rowers must cross in order to start clocking more miles in the 24 hour period. Our French team of CC4 Pacific logged the highest number of miles in our second grouping but it was only 6 NM compared to 41 NM by Battleborn who holds the 24 hour record based on this mornings reports. Race Director Chris Martin expects that these numbers could as much as double once teams reach the trades.

The Great Pacific Race Support Boat, Cloud Nine, has been busy making the rounds between boats. As of this writing, they are nearing the Pacific Warriors who have a malfunctioning Yellowbrick tracker which has not “pinged” in the last 24 hours. There is nothing else to suggest that this is anything other than a broken tracker and we have received direct reports that the crew is fine. The Pacific Warriors posted yesterday evening that they were doing a bit of star gazing … “So.many.stars”

Earlier in the evening, Cloud Nine cruised by Battleborn just to check in. The crew were in very good spirits and must have thought it was time for happy hour as they inquired if the support yacht would be serving them some beers. Sorry guys. You’ll have to wait until you get to Hawaii.

Our one solo racer, Elsa Hammond is still battling a bit with the ocean, and has sacrificed an oar to the mighty seas. Elsa said:

“the waves are all so big but a huge one came along and surprised me, and snapped my oar in two! It was so sudden that I couldn’t even catch the broken end so I’ve just got an unrepairable half an oar.”

Hammond, like all the rowers, has a few spares on board and our support boats also have additional supplies if needed.

This broken oar has not broken the spirit of Hammond who, like the rest of our teams, is determined to get to Hawaii “by sheer force of will alone” if they have to. The fascination with the journey, the mysteries of being such a tiny speck in the middle of such an expansive ocean, and the challenge to make the crossing keep the romance alive for our rowers.

With this romance comes gratitude and appreciation for the gifts that the ocean brings to us. Chris and Mark of NOMAN reported they were joined by a pod of dolphins and “treated to some acrobatics by a distant whale, which brightened our evening!” They also report that they don’t actually know what day it is any longer and in the open ocean, does it really matter?

The call of the ocean is tugging at those crews still ashore. You can feel the excitement and anticipation in the air around the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club as these teams make the final preparations to their boats. All the boats are in the water as of this morning. Teams will officially start rowing at 0600 Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

For two of our solo rowers, it is chapter two of their Great Pacific Race adventure with the ocean beckoning them back. Race Director Chris Martin is excited and happy that these crews have overcome setbacks and are ready to join the race. He is also looking forward to seeing how all the crews will use the knowledge they have gained from those who left before them to choose their routes across the Pacific. This knowledge paid off well for team NOMAN who quickly rowed into 3rd place and have rowed under the 2,000 NM mark with only 1967 NM to go after their delayed start. CC4 and Pacific Warriors are about to break through under as well as they are currently at 2009 and 2012 NM respectively.

Crews on shore are also paying tribute to those who have helped get them out on the water. Jim Bauer / Row for Hope was one of our solo racers who returned to shore. Jim discovered that he was in need of a chiropractic adjustment and found Greg Kelley D.C. in Monterey. Bauer’s new favorite finger stretching exercise is “to pray”. He presses his palms together and slowly points them downward, stretching out his fingers and wrists. Around the docks, we are now seeing rowers taking a moment “to pray” with Bauer and stretch.

Our four woman team on Boatylicious send “ A huge thank you to the families that have kindly hosted and looked after us while we’ve been staying in Monterey: Art & Lal Sutton, David & Sarah Duncan, Dave & Judy Fisher and Joan & Mark Peak. Thank you for your generous hospitality!”

However it’s not just one big love-fest here on shore as James Wight of Team Pacific Rowers tosses down the gauntlet as he writes to his competitors:

“Great effort lads, fantastic 1st week congrats from all at Team Pacific Rowers! We’ll be chasing you from Weds 6am.”

Solo Racers:
Project Flight Plan: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
Rowing 4 Reefs: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
Elsa Hammond: ROWING – Position 6; 2062 NM to finish, Rowed 126 NM
Row for Hope: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
Pair Racers:
Clearly Contacts CA: Returned to Safe Harbor
CC4 Pacific: ROWING – Position 4; 2009 NM to finish, Rowed 270 NM
Fat Chance: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
Four Person Teams:
Battleborn: ROWING – Position 2; 1882 NM to finish, Rowed 348 NM
Boatylicious: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
Pacific Rowers: Starting Wednesday, June 18 @ 0600 PT
NOMAN: ROWING – Position 3; 1967 NM to finish, Rowed 260 NM
Pacific Warriors: ROWING – Position 5; 2012 NM to finish, Rowed 150 NM
Uniting Nations: ROWING – Position 1; 1833 NM to finish, Rowed 357 NM