Great Pacific Rowing Race is off to an auspicious start. After being delayed due to weather, teams finally hit the water last Wednesday, only to have three of the boats run into trouble this weekend, with the crew of each being airlifted to safety on Saturday. The crews of both boats were just a few days into the epic 2400 mile (3862 km) race when they ran into trouble. Fortunately, they were only about 100 (160 km) miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was able to respond to their calls for assistance quickly.
Amongst those that needed assistance was a four-man crew consisting of three Brits, Sam Collins, Fraser Hart, and James Wight, as well as New Zealander Colin Parker. Collectively they were known as Team Pacific Rowers for their entry into the race. They were one of the 13 teams that set out from Monterey in California as part of the the first ever Great Pacific Rowing Race, which has its finish line in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Once it was learned that the boat was taking on water, race management was in constant contact with the crew, and made a quick decision to evacuate the four men when it became evident that the situation was serious, and potentially life threatening. U.S. Coast Guard reacted quickly to the call, and was on the scene in about three hours. All four men are said to be in good condition, with no injuries. It is believed that a storm may have compromised the integrity of the boar.
Meanwhile, solo rower Darryl Farmer, also from the U.K., ran into problems of a different kind on Saturday as well. He had been ill leading up to the start of the race, but wanted to press on none the less. Being out on the open ocean, where he experienced 8 to 10 foot swells, only made his condition worse. Farmer called for a rescue and was picked up on Saturday evening.
By Sunday, yet another solo-rower had run into problems as well. American Jim Bauer was just 53 nautical miles from shore when his boat started to take on water as well. High winds and a nasty storm had already capsized the vessel twice, and conditions took a turn for the worse from there. Bauer called for a rescue at midnight, and was later picked up by the Coast Guard as well.
Of the 13 teams that started the race, just 8 still remain. With weeks of rowing ahead of them yet, there are still many challenges that the rowers will face. Lets hope that none of the boats run into serious problems while further out to sea. Response times will be much slower out there, and the chance of things ending in disaster are much higher.
Good luck to the rest of the teams.