Race Day 26 – July 2

Posted on July 3, 2018 in Cockleshell Endeavour, Great Pacific Race 2018, Pacific Terrific, Uniting Nations 2018

Weather:  Uniting Nations Row will have 17 kt winds from the North East with 6 ft. seas.  Pacific Terrific and Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour will have 5 kt winds building to 15 kts from the North East with 6-8 ft seas.


Let’s talk about Fabio.  Sorry, Ladies, I’m not referring to the Italian-American actor/fashion model and spokesperson who appeared on the covers of romance novels during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I’m talking about Hurricane FABIO.

If you have been follow the race by using the YB Tracker and have looked at the forecasted wind for later in the week, you may have noticed a rainbow circle of colors heading toward our rowers.  This is FABIO.  We have been keeping a close eye on the development and progress of FABIO at Race Headquarters as well as from our Support Yacht.  The National Hurricane Center (part of NOAA) issue updated forecasts for Tropical Storms and Hurricanes every 6 hours and at present FABIO projected to pass behind Uniting Nations Row and in front of both Pacific Terrific and Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour.  It is currently around 1000 nm South East of them.

We have been keeping a close eye on every tropical cyclone and disturbance (as well as general weather patterns) since well before the start of the race.  Each disturbance gets named when it produces sustained wind speeds of more than 65 km/h (40 mph).  The forecasts are incredibly accurate given the nature and scale of the subject.  Obviously the forecast for the next couple of days tends to be pretty accurate but when looking at forecasting the strength and track of a tropical depression or hurricane, the accuracy significantly decreases beyond three days.  Errors for the track of the system have averaged 100 nm for day 4 and 150 nm for day 5 and by 15 kt in intensity.  With this knowledge we assess each system which is generated and keep a close eye on it and try not to get too excited if one appears to be heading straight for a crew right now.  Firstly, the crew will continue to row and will put significant mileage between their current position and the system by the time it arrives.  Secondly, the forecast will change, and so before things become more certain it would be foolish to act.  We’d hate to tell the rowers to pick up the pace only to then discover that the forecast has changed and that they are rowing into the path of the worst winds.

Hurricanes on the Pacific develop in the deep, warm waters off Mexico’s West coast where there is relatively little wind shear, and then generally travel between North and West.  They do at some point then pass over cooler waters (and/or encounter greater wind shear) which weakens them.  Because of this, hurricanes heading north have almost always been downgraded to a remnant low by the time they pass the route the rowers are racing along.

For ocean rowers very strong winds are scary, but the crews have already all been through stronger winds than we currently expect the remnants of FABIO to deliver.

We are monitoring FABIO very closely from the new Race Headquarters which have now relocated to the Waikiki Yacht Club, Hawaii. The present forecast predicts 30kt winds by the time FABIO is at the closest point to Pacific Terrific

When notifying Pacific Terrific about FABIO (back when it was a Tropical Storm (TS)), our Support Yacht informed the girls that the “GRIB Files predict TS Fabio will bring 5-15 kt NE winds to you on July 4th.  Perfect to gain some westing.”  These weather conditions are not all bad.

Here are some additional excerpts from the exchange between our ever-cheerful girls on Pacific Terrific (PT) and Present Moment (PM) earlier today when they were being told about the forecast: 

PT:  Sounds delightful :)  We are loving this warm weather and sun finally, think we have found the warm place, rowing in shorts and t-shirts!! We will take advantage of current conditions and cross fingers it [Fabio] passes ahead of us and we can keep rowing!

PM:  By now you have enough experience, adjust your safety margins accordingly to decide when to go on para-anchor.  We will communicate through it all.  I suspect Fabio will bring E-SE winds to you at some point before it returns to trade wind normals. It will be 400 nm WSW of you on the 7th. 

PM:  I don’t have concerns other than the slow westing gain so far.  When strong winds arrive in your favor, consider riding those waves to gain ground.

PT:  Cleaned the boat again this morning and moving much faster again so hopefully will make some better mileage the next few days, and it’s WARM!!!

We very much appreciate the always positive attitude from these girls.  And they did mention to us that they had reach a new speed record.  They reported “NE ish presently but we hit a new high of 4 kts SOG (speed over ground) yesterday and are cracking on West :)”

Meanwhile over on Bojangles, we have heard of another breakage on board.  This time, it was Sparky’s nose!  Here is the report from Mick:

“Sparky fell and hit his nose during change over the other night.  We completed full check and no serious damage … to Bo .. although Sparky’s nose is a mess.  When I rowed the Pacific with Chris [Martin, GPR Race Director] our change overs were called “The Midnight Shuffle” and were pretty slick affairs.  Me and Sparky it looks more like a sordid geriatric version of Twister!”  

Before signing off, Mick ended with “Really tough but it would be no fun if it was easy!”

Our support yacht Present Moment stopped by to visit Bojangles around mid-day today.  They found Sparky at the oars and assumed that Mick was sleeping in the cabin.  In an effort to not wake Mick in the cabin, they “did not bother raising them with VHF but instead with Jay on the Flugelhorn.  Sparky’s nose looked fine from a distance.”

We are not exactly sure what a Flugelhorn is, but apparently it’s like the offspring of a trombone and a trumpet.  We can only image what Sparky must have thought at such an odd noise heard out at sea.  Somewhat more surprisingly is that it failed to wake up Mick from his slumber.

For those of you doing the math, you may have realized that tomorrow could very well be a HUGE milestone for our boys at the front.  They are averaging 50+ miles per day, and as of our standing today, if they continue on with this good work, they will have their miles rowed equal, if not exceed the number of miles to go.  This means the HALF WAY POINT for them might be reached tomorrow!  Remember – this is just the half way in mileage, not necessarily in days.  We think they passed that point already as the second half of the row is always faster than the first half.  From that point onward they will be closer to Hawaii than California.  This is very exciting and we wonder how they boys might celebrate this significant milestone.

GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 19:00 (7 pm) PDT
1 Uniting Nations Row/ Isabel: ROWING – 1200 NM to finish, Rowed 1096 NM
2 Pacific Terrific/ Danielle: ROWING – 1677 NM to finish, Rowed 722 NM
3 Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour / Bojangles: ROWING – 1739 NM to finish, Rowed 668 NM
Team Attack Poverty/ Anne:  RETIRED
Team Ripple Effect/ Ripple Effect: RETIRED