HOW’D THEY DO THAT?
LEAD BOATS: Winds from the E @ 13 to 19 knots. Seas from the ESE @ 6 feet / 9 seconds.
MIDDLE BOATS: Winds from the ENE @ 13 to 17 knots. Seas from the ESE @ 7 feet / 9 seconds.
BACK OF THE FLEET BOATS: Winds from the ENE @ 13 to 18 knots. Seas from the ESE @ 6 feet / 9 seconds.
Each of the five teams still out in the Pacific have now fallen into a solid rhythm. They have adapted to the brutal schedule of rowing and rowing and rowing. The Great Pacific Race, the biggest, baddest, human endurance challenge on the planet, is a race but as we have learned from those teams that have arrived in Hawaii, it is also about the expereince.
Just as each team is unique, be it a pairs team, a co-ed team, or a team of four, each of the boats is as different as the crew who are rowing them. Some of the boats are of similar design, but the equipment on board, as well as the strength (physical and mental) and motivation of the crew can vary dramatically. Therefore, looking only at the numbers generated each day by our crews is not always the best way to assess exactly what is happening in this competition.
In the Great Pacific Race we have split the types of boats into two classes “Classic” and “Open”. Even within these two divisions, boats vary in size and shape. For example, our Classic Class boats, which have a ‘traditional’ long keel design vary in size from 24 feet such as the Black Oyster of Team Boatylicious to 29 feet such as Limited Intelligence for Pacific Warriors. The shape of the cabins also vary from the semi-circular to those with more volume in the top corners.
An Open Class boat, such as Roosevelt of Fat Chance Row, is basically a sailing racing dinghy in hull shape as it has a dagger board and rudder instead of a keel. This boat has a flat bottom which means that it has far less wetted area (about 70%). Having less wetted area means that a boat experiences less friction or drag as it goes through the water, and the boat therefore has the potential to go faster. An Open Class boat will also travel further for each stroke or breath of wind.
The other difference of the Open Class boats is the cabin configuration, as it has the larger cabin at the bow instead of the stern. Although obviously all boats catch the wind to a greater or lesser extent, these Open Class boats are able to catch the more wind, if the wind is behind the boat. The prevailing wind is behind the boats in this race. Another advantage of this Open Class design is that when there is no one at the oars (for example when our team on Fat Chance Row are both sleeping) they are able to maintain a speed faster than our Classic Class teams, providing the wind is behind them. Toss in an auto pilot to point the boat in the right direction, which is also on board Roosevelt, and it becomes more obvious how an Open Class boat is able to maintain such high daily mileages when compared with those in the Classic Class.
The Open Class does have a downside. These boats are a bit more “tippy” than the Classic Class boats. As the boat rocks from side to side, it becomes more difficult to apply force to the oars and row fast. This can result in more knocked shins and oinched thumbs as the oars hit various body parts.
Also, as the waves push the boat from the stern, the waves also wash over the top of the small stern cabin getting the deck and rower more wet. This can make the experience more uncomfortable for the rowers. About a month ago, Meredith Loring on Roosevelt was adjusting to life on board this Open Class boat:
“Our boat design is different than most in that it’s carbon with a round bottom.This makes the boat faster, but it’s less stable. We also sit just at the waterline, and unlike most ocean rowing boats, we have no side protection, so side waves come in and hit us rather than breaking on the side of the boat. I’m small enough that I don’t manage to stay on my seat for most of the side waves, though Sami does.”
Regarding the different classes of boats, Race Director Chris Martin said:
“I was at the meeting last year with those with the greatest investment in the sport, when the decision was made to split records into Open and Classic. The whole concept of having different designs does ruffle feathers and it would be good to have a handicap system but currently there isn’t enough data to define this.”
Another difference between boats is the equipment on board. Some equipment, such as the safety equipment, is mandatory. Other items are optional, such as having an auto pilot or auto tiller. More equipment can mean bigger solar panels and more weight, so again there is a tradeoff. A heavier boat, as stated earlier, is a slower boat, or at least slows a boat down.
As spectators and supporters of our teams, we also have to be aware that there is a difference between competition and completion. The goals of each of our teams vary as much as the charites they are supporting and the personalities of the rowers. Some teams simply want to win. Some teams want to have the experience. As we learned from Team Battleborn when they hit land, if they could have stayed out for five more days, they most likely would have chosen to do so, just for the experience.
No matter what type of boat our crews have chosen and no matter what additional equipment they have on board to assist them in crossing the Pacific, each of our crews will have achieved something that extremely few before them have ever done. More people have gone into outer space than rowed across an ocean. No matter what type of boat our crews have, it is TOUGH out there. One boat may be a little quicker than another, and rowing with two or four also creates a very different experience. Just because one way may be quicker than another, it doesn’t necessarily make the crossing any easier.
MEANWHILE, back on shore …
Once teams arrive on shore the rowing aspect of the race is done, but they must complete another round of scrutineering before they are issued their official standing. There is a detailed list of items that must still be on board, such as safety equipment, balast water, etc.
Team Uniting Nations, who crossed the line first on Tuesday 22 July after 43 days 5 hours and 30 minutes have been given an official time penalty of 36 hours. During their final scrutineering process there were two areas of consern:
1. Uniting Nations drank 3 US gallons of their bottled water / emergency water ballast, after their handheld watermaker failed. Rule 126.96.36.199 of the race rules dictates that if the seals on up to 16 US gallons are broken then a 12 hour penalty shall be added to the crew’s total race finish time.
2. Uniting Nations arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii without their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon), after it was reported to have been lost overboard on 30 June.
Rule 14.4 dictates that if after inspection in Honolulu, Hawaii any item of the safety kit is found to be absent, the team shall be disqualified from the race, subject to an appeal to the Head Scrutineer.
Head Scrutineer and licensed captain Lia Ditton received this appeal and issued the following statatement:
“In the early races across the Atlantic, teams dumped vital safety equipment in order to reduce weight and gain a competitive advantage. In the Great Pacific Race such action will not be tolerated and any boat which arrives with any item missing will be automatically disqualified pending appeal. Uniting Nations lost their EPIRB when it was accidentally knocked overboard at 2am on 30 June. The crew decided at the time that in the conditions it would be unsafe to mount an attempt to retrieve the unit and so they reported the loss of the EPIRB first thing in the morning. In the circumstances a time penalty, rather than disqualification has been allocated.”
The location of the bracket where the EPIRB was located has been inspected and further to the appeal made by Uniting Nations in writing, a time penalty of 24 hours has been awarded. The decision of the Head Scrutineer is final.
Team Battleborn arrived in Honolulu after 45 days 7 hours and 24 minutes at sea which calculates to 49 hours and 54 minutes after Uniting Nations. Taking into account the Uniting Nations total penalty of 36 hours, Uniting Nations remain the winners of the inaugural Great Pacific Race of 2014. We again and officially congradulate them on this incredible acheivement.
GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 1:00 pm PDT today
- Uniting Nations: FINISHED – 43 Days, 5 Hours, 30 Minutes, Rowed 2283 NM; Amended Time: 44 Days, 15 Hours, 30 Mintues
- Battleborn: FINISHED– 45 Days, 7 Hours, 24 Minutes, Rowed 2319 NM
- NOMAN: ROWING – 185 NM to finish, Rowed 2150 NM
- Fat Chance: ROWING – 425 NM to finish, Rowed 2005 NM
- Pacific Warriors: ROWING – 458 NM to finish, Rowed 1881 NM
- Boatylicious: ROWING – 691 NM to finish, Rowed 1643 NM
- CC4 Pacific: ROWING – 999 NM to finish, Rowed 1462 NM
Elsa Hammond: ROWING – New route to Mexico (destination TBC); Rowed 729 NM