The Boats

bojangles with kit out
An ocean row boat is the one item of equipment that each crew cannot do without.  In addition to this each crew will need numerous pieces of equipment to be able to row across the Pacific Ocean.   Ocean row boats are ruggedly designed and built from marine grade plywood, glass or carbon fibre and other composite materials.  They are able to withstand the worst weather that the ocean can throw at them and keep the crew safe.  All boats in the Great Pacific Race are designed to self-right if they capsize and each boat has undergone a capsize test to ensure that this design feature is operational.  Each boat has a water tight cabin at each end with the rowing cockpit in the middle.  Generally one cabin is used for storage and the other as the accommodation, where the crew can rest when they are not rowing.

The race rules restrict the use of boats to those within certain design parameters and define the different classes of ocean row boat.  There are two classes of ocean row boats recognised by the Ocean Rowing Society who adjudicate Guinness World Records – Classic Class and Open Class.

It should be noted that open class boats have a far lower rate of success.  Of 8 boats which have started, only 3 have been successful compared with 12 starters and only one crew has retired for teams rowing in classic boats.  We highly recommend that our teams select classic ocean rowing boats for the Great Pacific Race. The table below gives an overview of the key differences.


 Classic Class small1  Open class small1
  • Far higher success rate for the Pacific E-W route (compared to Open class)  >90% success rate
  • Low success rate for this ocean rowing route (Only 3 of 8 have succeeded) <40% success rate
  • V-shaped hull
  • Flat bottomed hull
  • Accommodation in stern cabin (in both for fours boats)
  • Accommodation in bow cabin (and in stern cabin for fours)
  • Uses hull shape and rudder for directional stability
  • Relies on centerboard and rudder for directional stability
  • Rowed not blown – Less windage
  • Blown more by the wind
  • More protection for crew from waves
  • Less protection for crew from waves so wetter and colder on deck.
  • More stable
  • Less stable
  • Autohelm not permitted
  • Autohelm permitted
  • Safer
  • Less safe










These differences mean that the boat speeds are not comparable and the two boat designs cannot be fairly raced against each other.  New Ocean Wave, the organizers of the Great Pacific Race don’t want to exclude any particular design and so both are allowed to race but will not directly compete.

To learn more about what defines an open or classic class boat you can view a copy of the race rules from the New Ocean Wave website.

Find out what training the crews go through to be able to participate.