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Blog #1 - August 11, 2022
10 months from this weekend, the inaugural Pacific Challenge will launch from Monterey California. Jayme and I will row 2,800 miles to Kauai. Currently there are 56 rowers on 16 teams, representing 9 different countries registered for the race. Jayme and I are the only all-American team and are also the only mixed pairs team. We are super excited about this new challenge!
One question that I have been asked is: “Won’t this row be easier since you both rowed the Atlantic Ocean?” That is a great question and it’s easy to understand why one might think it will be easier. And definitely from a logistics standpoint, it will be easier. The biggest difference logistically is we won’t have to ship our boat to the start line – I will simply trailer it down to Monterey. Can’t understate how big of a deal that is; it gives us 6-8 weeks of extra preparation time. Which is huge given we only have 10 months to prepare. Launching from Monterey also ensures that Jayme will not have to ship her homemade food rations to the start line; avoiding having them get stuck in customs for 5 weeks like last time.
Having gone through the qualification requirements for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC), we have a clear understanding of everything we are required to do. This familiarity is also a huge help. For example, when our boat, Lily, arrives, I already know everything that needs to be done for the radios; EPRIB; PLBs; and AIS (the boat's safety systems) and I will reuse the vendors who helped me for TWAC. We won’t be running up against the deadlines completely stressed like last time. We also already know how to calculate our mandatory calories and know what worked and didn’t work foodwise from TWAC. So in all these regards, we do have an advantage.
But there are a few factors that mean this row will not necessarily be any easier than the Atlantic row.
First is that we’ll be doing the race as a team. This is not something to minimize. Jayme and I only met during the two-week pre-race period in La Gomera, so we really don’t know each other that well. Which is a huge leap of faith – spend 40-60 days in a 24-foot rowboat with someone you that you don’t know that well!!! Fortunately, Jayme has already done this! When Jayme did the TWAC, she didn’t know her teammate and they lived on different continents. They were literally introduced by the race organizers. Jayme is the ace up our sleeve on this issue.
Another issue is that it is extremely difficult to get off the coast of California due to the direction of winds and currents. In recognition of this, Atlantic Campaigns is not allowing solo entrants and all pairs’ teams must have completed the Atlantic crossing and be approved by the Safety team. And there is the Pacific High to consider. This is a persistent weather pattern that varies in size and location each year. We will need to ensure we avoid this moving weather pattern as it can dramatically slow down our crossing. This is simply a tougher row.
There have only been 28 teams (solo to four person) that have successfully rowed from California to Hawaii and four of these teams were considered “assisted” rows (using kites/sails or receiving tows). This means there is significant less data available to study in advance of our row. For example, when I did TWAC, I was able to download the latitude and longitude data for all teams from the previous five races. I used this data to create a route plan for my crossing. We were also able to talk regularly to previous TWAC rowers including Carl P. who I purchased my boat from and who did the 2019 TWAC. But fortunately, we will once again have the amazing Safety team from Atlantic Campaigns who will feed us critical weather information and course guidance.
So, I think the answer to the question is that in some ways this row is going to be easier and in other ways it will be harder. And it's that challenge of the unknown that Jayme and I are drawn to.
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