Storm Watch: Tropical Storm Blas

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

Sunday, July 3, 2016 – Race Day 29

WEATHER: The ENE wind is expected to drop from 20 to 15 knots overnight; then down to 10 knots on Monday. By late Monday, the breeze will back to the NE and should be back up to 15 knots. This is likely to be the only effect felt of Tropical Storm Agatha. The front three boats should remain in 15-20 knots of breeze throughout.

STORM WATCH: Tropical Storm Agatha is now a much smaller system. The storm is expected to track into progressively cooler waters where it will weaken and eventually dissipate well east of all crews.

The second tropical storm mentioned yesterday became officially named this morning. Tropical Storm Blas is currently located 1554 nautical miles to the southeast of our most easterly teams and moving WNW at 11 knots. Unlike Agatha, Blas is currently maintaining significant deep convection – as you can see by the swirl of cloud in the bottom right of the satellite image above. Blas is expected to strengthen fairly rapidly overnight or early Monday, potentially becoming a hurricane on Tuesday as it passes over the warm sea surface temperatures of the East Pacific. But after 48 hours along the forecast track, the sea surface temperatures cool steadily. On days 4 and 5 – Wednesday and Thursday – Blas is expected to weaken and like Agatha,  peter out rapidly. It is too early to tell exactly when.

Typically, tropical storms weaken once they hit the cold current around 125W. Another factor which may influence Tropical Storm Blas, is a closed mid/upper-level low pressure system located northeast of the Hawaiian Islands. This could act as a buffer and deflect whatever remains of Tropical Storm Blas to the NE.

As we might expect the boats at the front of the fleet are also those with the greatest daily mileages.  In the last 24 hours Uniting Nations logged in 66 NM and Team Ocean Hearts tops the chart with 68 NM!  thoroughly impressive for a pairs crew.  The open class pair of Liz Dycus and Pat Hines on Team Ocean Hearts are gradually chipping away at distance between them in 2nd place and Uniting Nations currently in first.  At one stage there was more than 240NM between them but now there is less than 191 NM separating the two lead boats.  One other big change in the distances between boats has been made by Row Aloha.  They are now 75 NM in front of Sons of the Pacific.  The last time we reported this distance it was only 41 NM.  Great rowing from Todd Bliss and Rick Leach!

We also want to have a big shout out to Moana Uli Rowing who have dipped below the 1,000 NM to-go mark, with only 964 nautical miles left as of today!

At the other end of the fleet, Sons of the Pacific and Fight The Kraken will cross over the halfway point before we post our next report.  Keep an eye on these two teams as they are the closest in the fleet with only 15 NM separating them as of this report.  Vicki Otmani and Megan Biging on Fight the Kraken are logging more nautical miles with 45 in the last 24 hours vs. 40 for Sons of the Pacific.  Who do you think will reach the halfway point first?  Let us know in the comment section of our Facebook page.

As teams row into the second half of the race, their thoughts are turning to the finish.  A few days ago we started talking about the arrivals in Hawaii and it has been great to hear from so many friends and family who are planning on coming to the islands to welcome the teams. If you are planning on visiting Honolulu for an arrival, or two, please contact us at media@greatpacificrace.com and let us know when you’re arriving and which team you will be supporting.

After a month at sea we can now begin to look back a little at how the race has unfolded. Today we’re checking in with Uniting Nations, the foursome from France, USA, Iceland and Brazil. This team were self-selected with the goal of breaking the existing Guinness World Record set by a team of the same name, two years ago.  The only returning member of  the 2014 Team Uniting Nations is the boat: Danielle built by SeaSabre.  All other members of the crew have changed although the international vibe of the crew remains.  The record set by the 2014 crew currently stands at 43 days 5 hours and 30 minutes.

After just 5 days at sea, Uniting Nations had pulled a staggering 35 nautical miles ahead of the record. By day 10, they had extended this lead to to an impressive 116 NM! Despite pace dipping slightly over the subsequent 15 days, reducing their lead at times to as little as 80NM, they have since stretched out their advantage once again. The team are now more than 100 nautical miles ahead of the World Record pace.

However, the team is not invincible and both Moana Uli and Team Ocean Hearts have on occasion, found a way to take a nibble out of the lead that Uniting Nations have built up. Their lead over the fleet is seriously impressive. It would surely take more than a nibble for anyone to catch Uniting Nations at this stage – wouldn’t it?

MEANWHILE, back on shore …

Today we take a moment to catch up with one of our 2016 crew who was not able to complete the row. Raf Schildersman from team Endurance Limits, was unfortunately unable to complete his row across the Pacific. However, Raf has decided to keep rowing, only this time on land.

Raf is from Belgium and he decided to come up to the Bay Area and “row” the Bay Trail on a Rowbike, (www.rowbike.com). He’s using the Bay Trail maps to plan his trek. He started in Hayward on the first day and rode 16 miles to the Tidewater Boating Center in Oakland. He has been to the Port of Oakland Harbor, down to Fremont, around to San Jose and today he will be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge! You can follow him and learn more about his adventures at Endurance Limits Belgium.

GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 4:00 pm PDT today
1 Uniting Nations: ROWING – 626 NM to finish, Rowed 1659 NM
2 Team Ocean Hearts: ROWING – 817 NM to finish, Rowed 1570 NM
3 Moana Uli: ROWING – 964 NM to finish, Rowed 1348 NM
4 Row Aloha: ROWING – 1142 NM to finish, Rowed 1237 NM
5 Sons of the Pacific: ROWING – 1217 NM to finish, Rowed 1144 NM
6 Fight the Kraken: ROWING – 1232 NM to finish, Rowed 1132 NM
Endurance Limits: RETIRED – Rowed 241 NM
Endurance Limits USA: RETIRED – Rowed 207 NM