Race Day 56 – August 1

Posted on August 3, 2018 in Cockleshell Endeavour, Great Pacific Race 2018, Pacific Terrific

Weather: Pacific Terrific will have 20 kt winds from the East North-East with 8-9 ft easterly seas.  Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour will have 16-17 kt winds from the East North-East with 5 ft easterly/north-easterly seas.  

Today we introduce you to Hurricane HECTOR. Here at Race Headquarter we keep our eyes on many different factors. Weather is up there around the top of the list and weather updates are sent to all of our crews on a daily basis. If you have been following along via the tracker and drilled down into the Windy overlay and scooched along to a weeks time, you may have noticed a storm that has been forming.  Over the next week it appears to be travelling towards Hawaii.

The first thing to remember is that the Windy tracker is a visual representation of just one weather model, and there are many others that we reference on a regular basis even during ‘normal’ weather. While the particular weather model that the tracker uses clearly suggests that this storm may cross the path of our crews, other models are showing different predictions.   In fact, HECTOR is currently splitting the forecasting models’ predictions with two models indicating a weakening in the intensity of the hurricane after 72 hours and another three models suggesting the opposite.  We closely monitor the National Hurricane Center’s discussion and forecast predictions as they are the experts in the field.  At present HECTOR is still around 6 to 7 days away from Hawaii.  Forecast track errors for days 4 and 5 of a hurricane have historically averaged 100nm for day 4 and 150nm for day 5.  Beyond day 5 track and intensity accuracy sharply decreases (which is one reason why there is no forecast for days 6 and 7).  We will continue to keep a close eye on the progress of HECTOR and Pacific Terrific and will (of course) let you know as the forecast develops.

Remember that the safety of our crews is our top priority. At present we expect the ladies on Pacific Terrific to be arriving into Waikiki before HECTOR causes any issues for them. And fortunately, Mick and Sparky on Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour are far enough east to only feel a light breeze as HECTOR passes far to their south.  If anything it should give them a nudge in the right direction.

While at sea, our rowers have the opportunity to see all sorts of different weather systems and other phenomena. Usually we can give our rowers a good explanation for what they have experienced but we have to admit that the girls on Pacific Terrific have stumped us a bit with a recent vision they had on board.

Our first message to our Race Director from the girls was this:

Hey Chris, probably nothing but wondering what you thought. Just saw a bright flash on the horizon rising up and lighting up the sky. Looked green finishing up orange, lasted a few seconds, not like any flare we know but double checking in case you thought differently?! Nothing on radio, was to our port side. Not sure on distance. Any idea what it could be?!

They followed up with this message with a few more details:

The green light was mysterious. El and I (Megan) were rowing in the near pitch black pre-moon rise. We were looking north east trying to discern the oncoming waves when the sky lit up and we both turned our heads to port side south – the sky had become totally illuminated for about 3 seconds as if someone turned the lights on. And we saw a green tinged light rise from the horizon skyward, finish kind of orange. If we were both on land we’d have sworn it was a firework!

We must admit that we are a bit puzzled by what the girls may have seen.  At first we thought it might be the “green flash”.  The optical phenomena that sometimes occurs when conditions are just right and is a briefly visible green spot just above the sun at sunset or sunrise.  It occurs because the atmosphere refracts sunlight into its separate colors.

But according to the timing, later mentioned by the ladies, this theory doesn’t work as it was well after dusk and about 11:00 PDT. So then we thought that perhaps it was something associated with RIMPAC which concluded the next day in Hawaii so it might be some military chaps splashing about with their toys. But again, this far from land it seems unlikely.

Our third thought was that it might be the Alpha Capricornoids which are a meteor shower currently active and notable for the number of bright fireballs produced. They travel slowly so will produce light for quite a while. However, there were not any reported fireballs in the last 48 hours in the Hawaii area according to the American Meteor Society webpage, although being 200 nm from the Big Island may mean that the ladies are classed as outside the Hawaii area (at least in terms of local astronomy).

Or perhaps it was the Green Lantern sending a message out to our Wonder Women on the Pacific.  Any other ideas?


1 Uniting Nations Row/ Isabel: FINISHED – 49 Days, 23 Hours, 15 Minutes
2 Pacific Terrific/ Danielle: ROWING – 355 NM to finish, Rowed 2072 NM
3 Cockleshell Pacific Endeavour / Bojangles: ROWING – 841 NM to finish, Rowed 1641 NM
Team Attack Poverty/ Anne:  RETIRED
Team Ripple Effect/ Ripple Effect: RETIRED