Day 23 Race Report

Posted on July 2, 2014 in Battleborn, Boatylicious, CC4 Pacific, Elsa Hammond, Fat Chance, General, Great Pacific Race 2014, NOMAN, Pacific Warriors, Uniting Nations


LEAD BOATS: Winds from the ENE @ 12 to 18 knots. Seas from the S @ 6 feet / 16-17 seconds.
MIDDLE BOATS: Winds from the NNE @ 14 to 20 knots. Seas from the NW moving to the S @ 7-8 feet / 11-17 seconds.
BACK OF THE FLEET BOATS: Winds from the NNW @ 11 to 18 knots. Seas from the S @ 6-7 feet / 18 seconds.

On average, the boats rowing across the Pacific are now logging almost 40 NM per day. The race is speeding up as more and more boats reach the trade winds. Some tricks of the trades are coming out as teams report in on what is happening on each vessel.

The weather is heating up as well as the competition between CC4 Pacific, Team Boatylicious and Fat Chance Row. Only 38 NM separate these three boats. The girls on Boatylicious are closing in fast on the French as they have decreased the distance between their closest competitor by more than half in the last five days alone with a current separation of only 14 NM. Even more impressive is Fat Chance Row, who have decreased the distance between themselves and the Boatylicious from 58 NM as of last Saturday, only 24 NM today.

The extreme rowing pattern on Fat Chance Row of rowing together for up to 16 hours per day before both rowers take a break, has started to take a toll on our married couple. Sami explains their secret method of rowing:

“Most ocean rowers in pairs follow a 2-on 2-off schedule 24×7 so that someone is always rowing and each gets 12h/day of oar time. We had a more complicated sleep & row schedule planned, but have come to realize that:

  • every switch has a huge transaction cost in time, cleaning, clothes, messing up cabin, etc. especially in bad weather
  • we are fit enough to operate up to 10hrs at a steady work rate without major breaks
  • sleep and hormonal recovery works much better with a “long” sleep period, vs 6 short sleeps per day
  • we would miss a major life experience if we rowed and slept solo for two months while both on the same (divorce)boat

“We think the fastest, healthiest and most fun plan for us is to row 12-16hrs per day non-stop (lunch in between) together from 5am-9pm and then sleep (and anchor/row/drift w drogue) a minimum of 5hr sleep each night … weather and cargo ships permitting. This seems to work well, we feel great, make strong progress and enjoy the experience.

“Divorce-o-meter is still low, but maybe up to 1 now. We are occasionally getting a bit edgy as the body shows it’s first signs of fatigue and aches start to appear…”

Meredith today admits:

“I’m having a little break while Sami rows. We are really sore, and aren’t able to sleep through the night with all the aches and pains. I’m waiting for the painkillers to work …”

We have received reports that there have been a few breakages on board the Stork, which is the vessel for CC4 Pacific. These include three pairs of sunglasses, two MP3 players, the door to the watermaker compartment and three water tins. We don’t think any of these breakages should be slowing them down. Perhaps the culprit is that red wine they are rumored to have on board.

The girls from Boatylicious reported in recently with some of their secrets to a successful row:

“We’ve also learned that the relationship between progress made and high spirits is very closely linked. When we have two good 40 mile days, making progress west, the mood on the Black Oyster is sky high, we’re singing, we’re playing Would You Rather, we’re finally doing all that getting to know you chat that we skipped while planning on land, and life is good.”

The girls have had their struggles on board. They quickly reduced their oar count from 8 to 4 within their first week at sea. They have clearly hit their rhythm with their remaining oars as they continue to gain on their closest competition. Some of the other casualties for our pink ladies from week one include:

“800g of chocolate melted under me while all 4 of us in the cabin on para anchor, so we all ended up with thick, temporary tans and major sad faces! The next night on para anchor, we treated ourselves to Skittles instead, so that when they get spilled and lost, at least they don’t melt!”

and …

“Our on-deck speaker is the other big loss this week (it makes oars and bilge pumps seem so insignificant!), so at the minute we’ve no boom boom party tunes going unless we’re singing them, which suits me fine, but must be tough on the others because I can’t sing and don’t know the words to anything but this never stops me!”

At the front of the pack a new issue has been reported on at least two of our three front runners. Both Uniting Nations and NOMAN are reporting they have had to repair and/ or replace the bearing on their sliding seats. Each team carries a few spares, but reports are that both Uniting Nations and NOMAN are onto their last spares already.

Ocean Boat builder Justin Adkin, who has also rowed across the Atlantic, gives us some insight into these bearings.

“With the rough seas the bearings on the sliding seats take quite a hammering. All boats have to carry spares, hopefully enough to see them to the finish. On our row we lost all our spares and had to screw a seat down, so we had the last week with a fixed seat. We still turned out the same mileage as we did the week before. Most crews nowadays use sliding seats, however fixed seats are an option, and some believe you are more stable in the boat with the fixed seat. It will be interesting to see if a purely fixed seat set up is any different, speed wise.”

Elsa Hammond continues to try to push west and stay positive about her position. She reports:

“It was nice to have gentler weather though, and if things had been going more in the right direction it would have been a fantastic day. Feeling peckish in the afternoon, I suddenly remembered a last-minute addition to my food store that Steve and I had made – a block of Parmesan cheese!! I treated myself – a big chunk as a snack AND some shavings of it in my ‘Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta.’ At last my deck knife is getting some proper action.”

If Hammond could just catch up with those French cousins, perhaps she could trade some of that cheese for a little of the rumoured wine. Otherwise, things are getting a little fishy on board for our solo rower. Hammond tells her fish tale:

“Fishies! In my water tank!
There are fish in it! I’m not sure how long they’d been hanging out in there, but I doubt any of us were thrilled with the idea of them getting mixed up with my water making. It was tempting to keep them as pets – they’re really funny swimming around – but I think they probably prefer the ocean, so I’ve scooped them out and said goodbye (a trickier task than expected, as they were wriggly and good at eluding capture).”

Elsa Fish July 2

Two fishy updates:

  1. I checked my water intake tank today, to make sure I’d definitely got all the fish out yesterday. I had, but on closer inspection it looks like they’ve laid eggs on some of the walls and the handle etc. Is this likely? Do fish lay eggs and then leave them? Anyone know anything about this? I’ve cleaned it out as best I can  – hoping I won’t be seeing tiny baby fish in my water anytime soon
  2.  Just as I was packing things down on deck at the end of my shift this evening, I noticed a dark shape over the side of the boat. Looking into the water, I saw a small shark, about half a metre long – a baby? It was pretty cute, but I hope it doesn’t have a hungry mummy too close by…”

Perhaps she can trade some caviar along with the cheese!

Solo Racers:
Project Flight Plan: Withdrawn
Rowing 4 Reefs: Retired
Elsa Hammond: ROWING – Position 8; 2067 NM to finish, Rowed 406 NM
Row for Hope: Retired

Pair Racers:
Clearly Contacts CA: Withdrawn
CC4 Pacific: ROWING – Position 5; 1714 NM to finish, Rowed 707 NM
Fat Chance: ROWING – Position 7; 1752 NM to finish, Rowed 652 NM

Four Person Teams:
Battleborn: ROWING – Position 2; 1216 NM to finish, Rowed 1080 NM
Boatylicious: ROWING – Position 6; 1728 NM to finish, Rowed 542 NM
NOMAN: ROWING – Position 3; 1436 NM to finish, Rowed 871 NM
Pacific Rowers: Retired
Pacific Warriors: ROWING – Position 4; 1547 NM to finish, Rowed 781 NM
Uniting Nations: ROWING – Position 1; 1082 NM to finish, Rowed 1193 NM