As you all know the Great Pacific Race still has one very special boat still on the water the French pairs boat of CC4 Pacific.
Christophe and Clément are still out on the water after 60 days and are currently 560 NM from the finish off Diamond Head, O’ahu, Hawaii. There has rightly been a lot of concern about the guys in the light of the two hurricanes (ISELLE and JULIO) that are currently in the Central Pacific area. Strong winds and large waves are produced by storms like this and radiate out from the central storm hundreds of miles.
Ocean row boats have a basic design that is built on the lifeboats that were dropped from planes to aid in air sea rescues. They have an airtight cabin at each end of the boat and are designed to self right if capsized. Each of the boats in the Great Pacific Race have already been through a capsize test to prove their sea worthiness and ability to self right without assistance. The boats also have other items of equipment that they can use to help keep them safe.
We have been tracking these two hurricanes for a while and saw the potential danger a few days ago. We asked them to deploy their parachute anchor which acts like a giant parachute in the water halting their progress and forcing the boat to point into the waves reducing the risk of capsize. This has all but stopped their progress towards Hawaii and means that JULIO will pass to their south rather than directly over the top of them meaning that they will encounter relatively lighter winds and smaller seas than if they had continued to row. However, hazardous conditions can and do occur outside the cone and so CC4 should prepare for severe weather of 28-38kt winds and 20ft long period breaking swells. It is going to get very rough but this will only last around 24 hours and come Sunday they should start to see improvement in the conditions.
When JULIO has passed at its closest point to CC4 they will be able to haul in the parachute anchor and start rowing again as the wind and waves will continue to push them in the right direction. In this instance they can also deploy a drogue off the stern of their boat which keeps the back end of their boat pointing into the waves again reducing the risk of capsize.
ISELLE has already passed their position and last night we received a text from them indicating that the weather was no worse than they had already faced off the Californian coastline and asking when they will be able to row again. We expect JULIO to produce stronger winds and larger seas which will build over the next 24 hours to peak on Saturday around lunchtime. After this passes and if they feel safe they should be able to haul in their parachute anchor and start to make forward progress again.
The crew have plenty of provisions for at least another 20 days at sea and hope they will arrive into Hawaii in less than two weeks time.
We continue to monitor their position, weather updates from a number of sources and forecasting tools and we talk to the crew on a regular basis to advise them of the best course of action to keep them safe.