Day 14 Race Report

Posted on June 23, 2014 in Battleborn, Boatylicious, CC4 Pacific, Elsa Hammond, Fat Chance, Great Pacific Race 2014, NOMAN, Pacific Warriors, Uniting Nations


LEAD BOATS: Winds from the ENE clocking to NE @ 10 to 15 knots. Seas from the S to SSE @ 6 feet 15 seconds.
MIDDLE BOATS: Winds from the NNE clocking to the N @ 11 to 16 knots. Seas from the S @ 7 feet / 15 seconds.
BACK OF THE FLEET BOATS: Winds from the NW @ 16 to 24 knots. Seas from the NNW @ 8 feet / 8 seconds.

Today we hit the official two week mark in the Great Pacific Race. Eight teams continue their quest to cross the mighty Pacific using only human strength to row the thousands of miles between Monterey, CA and Honolulu, HI.

Uniting Nations, our lead boat who have rowed an impressive 697 miles thus far, are more than a quarter of the way across the Pacific. As they continue to reap the benefits of the trades, their speeds increase and they are making great progress as they head directly toward the islands.

Team Battleborn is close behind and we can see from various texts that the competition, as well as the weather, is heating up between our leaders. One fan posted last night:

“Just checked – the BB boys are clocking 2.9 knots to the UN’s 2.8 knots. That’s the style…”

What may appear as small differences in speed can have big implications during such a long race. Each tenth of a knot difference in speed can add up to many nautical miles. Over the course of the last 24 hours, Uniting Nations was able to increase their lead over Battleborn by another 2 NM as they slowly but surely inch away from their closest competitor. Battleborn reported that they know they are “going to have to find another five per cent to catch UN” even though they are already pushing themselves to the limit. “With our bodies battered and bruised, we don’t know where it will come from – but we aim to find it.”

Knowing that every little bit helps, a few superstitions on board couldn’t hurt. The Battleborn boys shared a few of their secrets regarding the rowing protocols they have developed over the last two weeks:

“We’ve also developed a few rituals, such as:
• thanking the ocean every time we get a soaking (roughly every 20 minutes);
• woop-wooping when we get a wave that brings our speed over six knots  and…
• booing when it has such promise but fails to deliver.”

With their woop-wooping and booing for inspiration, Battleborn was able to to gain an impressive 22 NM over NOMAN, currently in the 3rd position on our leader board. In turn, the Pacific Warriors gained 15 NM on NOMAN. Such a shift raised a few questions as to what might have been happening on board team NOMAN yesterday. As it turns out, team NOMAN was a little distracted on the water with some other on water traffic and activities.

“Bossing the cargo and oil tankers around on VHF has probably been the most entertaining thing so far. They [cargo and oil tankers] all seem quite confused by the situation when they are told to alter their course by 10 degrees by a 24 foot boat! They have been fairly easy to deal with so far (we managed to get one of them to give us a blow of the horn yesterday)  but its important to stay alert.

“We had to deploy sea anchor for a few hours yesterday afternoon because the US Navy and US Coast Guard were having firing practice. Chris [Blacketer] was instructing an army reconnaissance plane overhead in order to find our position so they could keep track! Fortunately they didn’t keep us too long and we were back under way by mid afternoon.”

This little change in their conditions led to the big shift in their position between the 2nd and 4th teams.

Elsa Hammond / Elsa Hammond’s Pacific Solo Row has also adopted a little change that she thinks will help a lot. With the challenging conditions she is still facing, she has added tethers to the spoons of her oars. Her shore team reports she has done this “in case of breakages, that way they won’t get swept away and she stands a chance of being able to repair them.”

Hammond, like our girls on Team Boatylicious, needs to be very cautious with her now limited supply oars. There are contingency plans in place in case either team needs to resupply their oars, but this should be considered a last resort as it means teams would no longer be classified as unsupported which affects their eligibility for world records and a position in the race.

We are not sure yet what other little changes our all girls on Team Boatylicious have adopted, but whatever it is, they are making very good progress. In the last 24 hours, they gained 6 NM on the French team CC4 Pacific, and also managed to separate themselves by an additional 9 NM over team Fat Chance Row. Our girls have also rowed under the 2,000 NM mark in the last 24 hours. Each of these little milestones add up to big gains.

Other little things on such a long race can also mean a lot – little things like a candy coated piece of chocolate. Philip Cavanagh of Battleborn wrote in a recent team blog:

“Have you ever eaten chocolate? I mean, have you ever properly eaten it? We’ve developed a new skill – the art of really enjoying our snack pack foods.”

“Depending on your luck, this can consist of chocolate bars, reese cups, protein bars, nutri grains etc. Yesterday, I managed to make a packet of M&M’s (couldn’t believe my luck when I found them) last for over 90 minutes. Every taste sensation is savoured before even attempting to bite into the chocolate. I’m really going to appreciate food more when I get home. My mouth is already salivating at the prospect of what I’ll binge on first… so many options.”

Teams are also reporting little changes in the weather as the seas start to calm. For team NOMAN:

“Conditions out here finally seem to have calmed down a bit and the winds look like they might start blowing in our favour soon. We have been pretty much glued to our foul weathers – in fact I’m out of mine today for the first time in over a week! Just in case anybody thought we were cruising across the Pacific in our bermuda shorts!”

Yes, it’s the little things that mean a lot, especially out on a big ocean.

Solo Racers:
Project Flight Plan: On shore
Rowing 4 Reefs: Retired
Elsa Hammond: ROWING – Position 8; 2047 NM to finish, Rowed 264 NM
Row for Hope: Retired

Pair Racers:
Clearly Contacts CA: On shore
CC4 Pacific: ROWING – Position 5; 1925 NM to finish, Rowed 440 NM
Fat Chance: ROWING – Position 7; 2000 NM to finish, Rowed 239 NM

Four Person Teams:
Battleborn: ROWING – Position 2; 1644 NM to finish, Rowed 631 NM
Boatylicious: ROWING – Position 6; 1980 NM to finish, Rowed 194 NM
NOMAN: ROWING – Position 3; 1801 NM to finish, Rowed 487 NM
Pacific Rowers: Retired
Pacific Warriors: ROWING – Position 4; 1844 NM to finish, Rowed 141** NM
Uniting Nations: ROWING – Position 1; 1573 NM to finish, Rowed 697 NM

*The miles rowed reflect all miles rowed since the start of the race which include miles from any first attempts before returning to shore and re-joining the race.

** The miles rowed reflect the data from when their tracker was reset.