Day 76 Race Report

Posted on August 25, 2014 in CC4 Pacific, Crews, Great Pacific Race 2014


Today during their final scrutineering process, we learned more details about the journey that Christophe Papillion and Clement Heliot had on La Cigogne as they rowed across the Pacific. The two of them recalled that as they were preparing for the race in Monterey, California, that they realized they were not ready. Reflecting back to those days before the start, Christophe recalled, for example, that they didn’t even know how to use their GPS, so they spent a lot of time in California trying to figure it out.  They realized understanding their GPS would be rather essential in crossing an ocean!  Even though they had spent a year rebuilding the boat and preparing for their journey, there were still so many additional little things that they could have or perhaps should have completed.  They also understood, however, that there comes a time when you just have to go, whether you are ready or not.

“We realized that we were far more prepared for this row than the people who had rowed or attempted to row the Pacific years before us. So we thought if there was something we didn’t know, that we would just figure it out along the way” Christophe told us during their debrief today.

When they started their journey, they faced about three weeks of what they thought would be the worst conditions of the race (little did they know they would face hurricanes later in their journey).  It was cold. It was wet. It seemed as though their crossing would be never ending. Where was that warm California weather? Where were those waves that would just push them along in the direction of Hawaii? None of that was happening. And in the beginning, Christophe and Clement thought their crossing of the Pacific would take about 50 days at the most. It was during these first long, cold, wet weeks that they realized they had miscalculated and their journey would be a bit longer. Were the French cousins discouraged? No. They decided they would just take the trip one mile at time. And that was exactly what they did for the 2,495 nautical miles they ended up rowing to get from Monterey, California to Waikiki, Hawaii.

Food was a big part of their journey, just as meals are a big part of the French culture.  Clement told us they would take time to prepare and cook every meal. They had packed cheese (just not enough for the entire journey), ‘saussion’ and of course some wine. Dinner each evening was a ritual. The two cousins always had dinner together. And every night at sunset, they would each have one glass of wine, together. The wine had been packed into five – four liter bags, so they had 20 liters of wine for their trip. They ran out of wine on day 74 of their 75 day journey.

One other luxury they had on board was Oreos. They had a total of 240 Oreos, so each day they each were allowed two Oreos. When asked what they missed most during their journey, the answer which was said in unison by both cousins, was “CHEESE!”

On several other boats we have seen hash tags marking off the number of days at sea. This was not the process for Christophe and Clement. Sunday mornings were a special day and required a special meal, which would mark the completion of a week at sea. On Sundays, they made pancakes, would have cheese (while it lasted) and their glass of wine. Every Sunday, this was their ritual.

The crafty cousins also got rather creative with their clothing. The Race Organizers had provided each rower with grey Henri Lloyd fleece pullovers. While experiencing Monterey’s “June gloom” we saw most of our rowers wearing these warm and fuzzy fleece pullovers around the boat park as they were making their preparations for the race. Once at sea, Christophe and Clement would take their fleeces and put their legs through the arms and pulling on the pullovers more like a pair of pants. This was how they kept warm while rowing and sleeping. They also got crafty with a pair of socks, outfitted with screws and washers for eyes, which created the “muppets” with which they entertained each other.


Night rowing was the best for them. They found the stars to be amazing. Christophe described the experience of rowing at night as being similar to what he imagines it to be like in outer space.

“The stars are amazing. It was like in the movie Gravity, as if La Cigogne was our space ship with so many stars in the sky and reflected on the water. You are out there all alone with so many stars. Then when we saw “earth” for the first time, it was like were were seeing it as a spaceman.”

Clement mentioned how affactionate they felt toward their boat. “The longer the time we were out there, the move love I felt for the boat. We are very proud of the boat because we rebuit her.” Christophe added in that the boat was the third part of their team.

“For the week before the start of the race, for a whole week we slept on the boat. This was very important to put into our minds what it would be like to be on the boat. During those first weeks, since we had already spent time in the boat, when we had the rough weather we felt comfortable and safe” said Christophe.

The French cousins will spend a few more days in Hawaii with their family and friends before heading back to France. They have decided to keep their beards and long hair until then.

 Official Great Pacific Race Results found here.

Uniting Nations: FINISHED
Battleborn: FINISHED
Fat Chance: FINISHED
Pacific Warriors: FINISHED
Boatylicious: FINISHED

Elsa Hammond: Retired
Pacific Rowers: Retired
Row for Hope: Retired
Rowing 4 Reefs: Retired
Clearly Contacts CA: Retired