July 4th, Independence Day

Posted on July 4, 2016 in General, Great Pacific Race 2016

Monday, July 4, 2016 – Race Day 30

WEATHER: From west to east, crews should see between 20-25 knots and 15-20 knots ENE respectively. The wind strength is likely to fluctuate within these ranges over the next three days, but the wind direction should be relatively consistent.

STORM WATCH: Tropical Storm BLAS was declared a cat 1 hurricane this morning, the first hurricane of the season in the East Pacific. Blas is moving WNW at 12 knots and was at 14:00 PST today, located 1,308 nautical miles from our mostly easterly team. The thunderstorm and convective cloud pattern around the hurricane has not changed much during the past few hours and as a result Blas remains a minimal hurricane. It is unclear as to why Blas has not strengthened much, especially since the large-scale environment appears conducive for intensification. Blas is moving over very warm water and these favorable environmental conditions may still allow Blas to strengthen during the next 36-48 hours and become a major hurricane. 

On Thursday BLAS is predicted to hit cooler sea surface temperatures and weakening is expected to commence. Tropical Storm Agatha dissipated rapidly over cold sea surface temperatures and has since been downgraded to a tropical depression. Cooler sea surface temperatures are referred to as “hostile conditions” and will cause Blas to further weaken on Friday and through next weekend. By this time all teams should be a minimum of 240 nautical miles further SW and so out of any hypothetical path projected at this time. Nonetheless Row Aloha, Sons of the Pacific and team Fight the Kraken have been advised to row with the wind on a 230-240 degree and therefore faster course, in order to move away from all project paths.

Unfortunately 2016 is proving to be a very active year for tropical storms. An area of disturbed weather enhanced by a tropical wave several hundred miles SW of Mexico is also expected to become an area of low pressure. By the end of this week, this system could become our third organized tropical system.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to all of our rowers, family and friends from the USA!

This morning we received a special Independence Day greeting from the girls on Fight the Kraken: “yeah! go ‘merica! we have on our usa tanks and hats and are rowing for freedom! U! S! A!”  And they sent us a joke  … “Knock knock … who’s there? not freedom, because freedom rings”  Nice ones, Kraken girls!

Today while those of us in the USA are going to BBQ’s, having picnics and watching fireworks, it will be just another day of rowing for our crews out on the Pacific.  As you bite into the warm, juicy hamburger with crisp lettuce and a toasted bun, think of our rowers having another bag of freeze dried food with a side of freshly pumped water from the watermaker.  Their night sky full of stars will sparkle like a thousand fireworks.  And after the celebrations, as you snuggle into bed for a long 8 hours of slumber, remember that the rowers will be getting up again in a couple of hours to get back to work on the oars.

It’s a good life out there and experience that truly can’t be compared. We received a first hand report yesterday from our support yacht Galen Diana who visited Liz Dycus and Pat Hines on Team Ocean Hearts.  The Galen Diana met up with them at about 15:30 and they reported that the weather was “mostly cloudy, warm, air 70 degrees, sea 73 degrees. Wind ENE at 20-25 knots. Choppy and disorganized seas ranging from 4-7’.”  It is also very helpful for us to have these real-time reports on location, especially when tracking the various weather systems moving around the Pacific to ensure that it matches the forecast that are sent to all teams each day..

Here is the report we received from our Galen Diana crew:

We spoke on the radio for a brief conversation. These ladies are on a mission and mean business. They kept the conversation to a minimum so they would not miss a beat. They calculate they have about 2 1/2 weeks to the Diamond Head Buoy (finish line). They are striving to close the gap on Uniting Nations and are not looking back at the others! Pat said her “diaper rash” is on the mend and she is doing much better. Both ladies looked strong and healthy.

When asked if we could get a shot of Pat’s new hairstyle, she said “over my dead body”! Note the hat in the photos. We wished Pat a belated Happy Birthday and said our farewells as we sailed off westerly.

We had received a special request to try to get a photo of Pat’s new hair-do after the reports of her going to #SalonAtSea. We will just have to wait until their arrival in Hawaii!

On the topic of Hawaii, for weeks now our teams have been rowing along through the Pacific watching the horizon. One of the ways they will know they are getting close to the Hawaiian Island is that teams may see clouds on the horizon that don’t appear to be moving. These clouds often signify land and (as they are above the land) are seen before the land itself can be seen when approaching from the sea.  First they will see the mountain of Haleakala, the 10,000ft high mountain on Maui to their south, but as that is not the island they are heading to they may feel some slight frustration as well. The iconic Diamond Head crater will give them a second boost as it marks the finish line and the end of their voyage.  Once our teams spot land, they will still have a few more days and nights of rowing. They will spot the lights on the islands that will twinkle like the stars they have become accustom to, guiding them to the finish line.

We reached out to some of our crew from 2014 to ask for their reflections on spotting land during their crossing. Here is what we received from Barry Hayes from Team Battleborn:

My reaction was a little different to my team mates. I’d spent ages thinking about seeing land and wondering what I’d do when I saw it. Would I whoop with joy? Would I dive off the boat? Would I get all gooey and give Darren the man-love he so deserved? No. I woke up for my 4am shift, Philip said “Look…there’s lights….” and I was really disappointed.

Darren Taylor added in:

Barry was right too. We had seen the lights of one of the islands, and Phil and I were really excited, it being the first sight of land that we had seen for 40 days, and when the other two came on shift later on, they were completely unenthusiastic about it to say the least. Miserable bastards. They just sort of grunted and completely took the wind out of our sails……

And a bit more fror Barry Hayes:

I guess you could liken it to if you go go-karting or car racing and they stick out the flag to tell you “that’s your last lap, you need to come in at the end of it.” You’re really enjoying yourself and you don’t want to come in – it was like that for me, but on a grander scale. I loved it out there. I felt like we’d cracked this ocean-rowing malarkey.

But then after 20 minutes I came to my senses and realised that this meant family, This meant hot showers. This meant beer! Perhaps not even in that order! And then I was happy a pig in muck until I stepped on to land and realised I’d forgotten how to walk.

How do you think the 2016 teams will react to seeing land for the first time?  It won’t be long now until we know the answer to that question.  Team Uniting Nations is currently 116NM ahead of Guinness World Record Pace as they power their Sea Sabre built boat Danielle towards the shores of O’ahu.  Over the next week we can expect to see the foursome from France, USA, Iceland and Brazil accelerate even more as they push themselves to the limit knowing that as soon as they finish a soft bed and the burger that they missed out on today will be easily accessible .  We don’t want to jinx them by saying any more but GO UNITING NATIONS!

GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 4:00 pm PDT today
1 Uniting Nations: ROWING – 561 NM to finish, Rowed 1725 NM
2 Team Ocean Hearts: ROWING – 747 NM to finish, Rowed 1641 NM
3 Moana Uli: ROWING – 905 NM to finish, Rowed 1408 NM
4 Row Aloha: ROWING – 1090 NM to finish, Rowed 1292 NM
5 Sons of the Pacific: ROWING – 1176 NM to finish, Rowed 1187 NM
6 Fight the Kraken: ROWING – 1192 NM to finish, Rowed 1174 NM
Endurance Limits: RETIRED – Rowed 241 NM
Endurance Limits USA: RETIRED – Rowed 207 NM