The First Big Blow

Posted on July 16, 2016 in Fight the Kraken, Great Pacific Race 2016, Moana Uli, Ocean Hearts, Row Aloha, Sons of the Pacific

Saturday, July 16th, 2016 – Race Day 42

WEATHER: The eye of the remnant low left behind by Celia has now passed NW of Row Aloha, Sons of the Pacific and Fight the Kraken. As the storm tracks further away, the wind should drop dramatically and back in direction from SE to ESE through Sunday. The trade-wind flow is set to reestablish from east to west on Monday, leaving Moana Uli and Ocean Hearts in very light airs for longer. 

STORM WATCH: Hurricane Darby became a category 3 hurricane as of this morning. This afternoon Darby finally responded to the cooler sea surface temperatures and more stable air mass, which should result in continued weakening. Near the end of the forecast period, the sea surface temperatures under Darby will begin to warm a bit. By that time – and as a positive development from the forecast models yesterday – increasing WSW’ly shear should prevent restrengthening. The weakening system is expected to turn WSW once it becomes steered by the trade-winds and pass below the Big Island of Hawaii.

Tropical Storm Estelle, currently 2,100 nautical miles from our most easterly team, is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday. The outlook calls for the eye of the storm to be located at 20.3N, 129.8W on Friday, which means Estelle is set to pass well east of all crews. This will be the first break in the relentless series of storms our teams have rowed away from.

As we have been reporting in the weather and storm watch section of the blog over the last several days, the weather system formally known as Celia is now passing over some of our rowers as well as our Support Yacht, Galen Diana.  Although we have had a succession of storms threaten our fleet, this is the first major storm that has had a direct track right over three of our crews – Row Aloha, Sons of the Pacific and mostly Fight the Kraken.

Skipper Rod Mayer from the Galen Diana reported in late yesterday that frankly “the weather here sucks.” They have been seeing swells of upward of 12’ with winds from the NE at a steady 28-30 knots, and gusts up to 35 knots.

Earlier today the Galen Diana caught up with Fight the Kraken as Celia was passing over. This was a very tricky day for both boats. As you see in today’s featured photo, the conditions were not very pretty, and we are sure that these photos were taken during the calmest moments for the crew. Even so, you can see the walls of water that both vessels were facing. Vicki and Megan are tucked inside the cabin and if you look closely you can see the line from their sea anchor.

Here is the report from the Galen Diana:

05:15 FTK on AIS 4NM away from our position at [23.2N 146.56W]. Although we had an AIS signal, we could not reach them on VHF radio until we were within 1-1/2nm. The seas were so high they not only interfered with their VHF signal, they would sporadically fall off our screen and then pop back up again as we were in range.

We noticed they were not moving any faster than the drift and that they must be at sea anchor.

At 0900 we were able to make radio contact with Sedna. Vicki was on the line and from the sound of her voice I knew they were happy we were around. The weather was really nasty. Winds topping 42kts combined with a mix of monster swells upwards of 25’ in height from multiple directions thrashing and crashing, being tossed and turned making it extremely difficult to navigate out of it. We were in the middle of a storm and in the same boat so to speak.

I asked them how they were hanging in there and Vicki replied with “having a lovely time doing our nails and watching soaps”.  She said “it was a bumpy night and we hope it calms down soon”.

They said they had been on sea anchor since earlier in the night and they are just waiting for the storm to pass by allowing them to get back on the oars and get rowing. At anchor they are getting tossed around in their cabin. “It is really hot and humid inside, but outside it is chaotic with swells in every direction. We are trying to muster up and prepare to get wet”.

Sons of the Pacific and Row Aloha are facing similar conditions. Unfortunately, Fight the Kraken is getting the worst of this particular system. We anticipate that things will calm for all of these crews in the next 24 hours. Until then, we are sure they are all holding on tight!

The distance between Sons of the Pacific and Row Aloha keeps narrowing.  However, in these current conditions safety is priority number one.  If teams feel they need to be on sea anchor while it blows over, then that is what they should do.  Don’t be surprised to see slower than normal speeds from these crews over the next 24 hours.

At the front end of our fleet, teams are facing some challenging conditions, but not nearly as strong as the ones mentioned above.   Moana Uli Rowing reported in “all good.  Very hard rowing today.  Very hard to keep course.”  Team Ocean Hearts let us know that they are facing NE winds and were getting “pushed around a bit, but you can’t change the wind direction so we’re just getting on with it. We’re rowing like crazy out here!” Having tossed everything to the wind, including their clothes as we recently reported, seems to be paying off. Our naked ladies logged in what we believe to be the highest 24 mileage thus far in the race with 74 NM in a 24 hour period. At this rate, it will soon be time to start their 100 NM countdown.  Rowing naked seems to be fast rowing!

If you are planning on coming to Hawaii for an arrival, please reach out to us at media@greatpacificrace.com

Meanwhile, back on shore … 

Last night, the crew members of Team Uniting Nations gathered together at the the Waikiki Yacht Club.  After a long day of cleaning up the boat, they enjoyed an evening at the club.  Race Director Chris Martin brought them to the stage and each member of the crew gave a brief summary of their journey.  It was a very special moment, which you can watch here.

PREDICTED ARRIVAL 07-16-16 @ 20:00 PST
CREW VMG RECENT VMG START
UN 14-Jul 14-Jul
OH 19-Jul 20-Jul
MU 22-Jul 23-Jul
ALOHA 03-Aug 31-Jul
SOTP 02-Aug 31-Jul
FTK 29-Jul 03-Aug

GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 4:00 pm PDT
1 Uniting Nations: ROWING – FINISHED 39 Days 9 Hours 56 Minutes
2 Team Ocean Hearts: ROWING – 189 NM to finish, Rowed 2237 NM
3 Moana Uli: ROWING – 291 NM to finish, Rowed 2028 NM
4 Row Aloha: ROWING – 534 NM to finish, Rowed 1859 NM
5 Sons of the Pacific: ROWING – 539 NM to finish, Rowed 1842 NM
6 Fight the Kraken: ROWING – 615 NM to finish, Rowed 1767 NM
Endurance Limits: RETIRED – Rowed 241 NM
Endurance Limits USA: RETIRED – Rowed 207 NM