North or South?

Posted on July 23, 2016 in Great Pacific Race 2016, Moana Uli, Ocean Hearts, Row Aloha, Sons of the Pacific

Saturday, July 23nd, 2016 – Race Day 48

WEATHER: With the boats being so close together they are all experiencing very similar weather at present with those slightly nearer the Hawaiian islands being tested by Easterly winds slightly higher (18-24kt) than those from Fight the Kraken (15-21kt) ever so slightly further away.

STORM WATCH: Tropical Storm Darby is hitting the Hawaiian island chain and has just moved past the Big Island with maximum windspeeds of 35kt. We’re all happy that Moana Uli arrived into Waikiki before Darby. 

The Waikiki Yacht Club has been the hub of a lot of activity for the Great Pacific Race over the last couple of days.  We have had the back-to-back arrivals of Team Ocean Hearts followed by Moana Uli Rowing just a day and a half later.  So who are these Moana Uli rowers who have taken on the Pacific?  And what drew them to take on the World’s Ulitmate Endurance Challenge?

Greg Vlasek (USA):  Greg lives and works in Sacramento, California as an Air Monitoring Program Manager.  He is an experienced waterman and loves nothing more than being on the water in whatever boat is available.   At age 60, he is the oldest male participating in the 2016 edition of the Great Pacific Race.  Yesterday after completing the race he stated that “It was a great way to get to Hawaii” and he is looking forward to spending a couple of weeks on the islands.

Brian Conville (Ireland):  Brian is only 24 years old and is from Dublin, Ireland.  Shortly after the 2014 edition of the Great Pacific Race, Brian met Philip Cavanagh who was the first Irish man to row the Pacific as part of team Battleborn.  It was during that meeting that Brian decided to follow Philip’s footsteps and embark on the same adventure.

At over 6 feet 6 inches tall, we wondered how Brian would cope with squeezing into the tiny cabins on board the boat.  “It was tricky the first few nights but then it became second nature.  Getting out of the hatch was a nightmare.  Greg reckons it was like watching a horse being born when I exited the cabin, my legs would come out, followed by my arm going in all directions while Greg made horse noises.”

We asked Brian what it was like to have a real bed to sleep in last night, one in which he could finally stretch out.  “It was weird being in a real bed.  I slept on the edge of the bed and didn’t move much because I wasn’t able to move much on the boat.  I’m really rather stiff today and can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I wish I was still rowing because then maybe my back wouldn’t be so sore!”

We are sure that after another couple of days and nights ashore that Brian will be over that thought and will be spread eagle across the middle of his bed!

Timothy Spiteri (Australia):  Tim is a Melbourne born and bred man and is 38 years old.  He has been a member of the Victorian Police Force for 16 years, is a keen outdoorsman and has participated in a few seasons of surf boat rowing.  Recently Tim has been participating in and coaching at both school and club level rowing.  He entered the Great Pacific Race knowing that he has both the physical stamina and the strong mental aptitude required for completing the challenge ahead of him.  He knows this because he has already completed two other similar challenges. He has also rowed across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Tim was the skipper of Moana Uli Rowing.  He wanted to make this voyage more than just an epic adventure.  For this row he raised money for MS Australia – the Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS Australia is close to Tim’s heart as his mother, who was there on the finish line with Tim’s dad, suffers from the disease.

Today Moana Uli went through their final scruitineering on shore.  Part of this process is doing a post race weigh in.  The three crew members lost a combined total of 51.0 pounds during their crossing.  During the process of going through the items on the boat with Safety Officer Lia Ditton and giving the boat a thorough cleaning, the crew members also received a good dousing from several rain showers that moved through the area as the islands brace for Darby to pass over in the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, out on the Pacific …

We still have a race on our hands and half of our fleet is still out there powering towards Hawaii.  Before teams hit the invisible road block of Tropical Storm Darby at 150 deg. longitude, we saw Sons of the Pacific working hard to generate a 20NM lead over Row Aloha.  Then when the crews were paused, the two teams were basically equal distance from the finish.  Today the mileage to the finish listed between the two boats is in the low single digits.  However, there is no chance that they will be able to see each other as there is a significant distance north to south between the boats.

In the coming days it will be fascinating to watch as these boats approach Hawaii and we can see which route is faster, north our south.  Sons of the Pacific seem to be tracking almost directly on the same course taken by our winning boat Uniting Nations.  Conditions on the Pacific change rapidly and are a bit different since our first boat crossed the finish line, so the selection of this course is by no means a guarantee of success.  Will this choice pay off for Erden and Louis?  Or with the current sea conditions will Row Aloha have the better option being farther north?  Only time will tell and by mid to late next week we will have the answer as these teams reach the Hawaiian islands.

We heard from Row Aloha today that they have broken a second oar when they were hit by a “rogue swell.”  They told us “A freight hit us broadside.  I (Todd) was asleep.  Everything besides myself instantly relocated hard against the port side!”   This has not stopped them.  Each of our remaining teams have between 3 – 4 sets of oars on board so this shouldn’t slow Rick and Todd’s advancement to Hawaii.

Keep on rowing!

PREDICTED ARRIVAL 07-23-16 @ 16:00 PST
UN Finished Finished
OH Finished Finished
MU Finished Finished
SOTP 29-Jul 31-Jul
ALOHA 29-Jul 31-Jul
FTK 30-Jul 02-Aug


1 Uniting Nations: FINISHED – 39 Days 9 Hours 56 Minutes
2 Team Ocean Hearts: FINISHED – 46 Days 17 Hours 47 Minutes
3 Moana Uli: ROWING – FINISHED – 48 Days 2 Hours 40 Minutes
4 Sons of the Pacific: ROWING – 283 NM to finish, Rowed 2135 NM
5 Row Aloha: ROWING – 286 NM to finish, Rowed 2147 NM
6 Fight the Kraken: ROWING – 360 NM to finish, Rowed 2057 NM
Endurance Limits: RETIRED – Rowed 241 NM
Endurance Limits USA: RETIRED – Rowed 207 NM