Rowers Set Pacific World Record, 2,400 Miles From San Francisco to Hawaiʻi in 30 Days
A crew of four men from California and the United Kingdom took 30 days to row from San Francisco to Honolulu, setting a new world record during the Great Pacific Race.
Team Latitude 35 left San Francisco on May 31 at 6 p.m. and traveled about 2,400 miles to the Waikīkī Yacht Club — arriving Wednesday morning. The team beat the previous world record by nearly 10 days.
They went through hundreds of pounds of freeze-dried food, and used tools to produce fresh water and repair their boat.
Angus Collins, 31, is the youngest person to row across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. He acted as navigator with the help of solar-powered technology.
"We got this thing called AIS that will show any boats that have the AIS system within 30 miles of us and let us know if we’re on a collision course with them," he said. "We also got satellite phones which allowed us to send photographs and videos back home. It also allowed us to download weather data and the waves. Each morning we could then decide what our desired course would be depending on what the wind is doing."
The group took turns throughout the day, switching between two hours of rowing and two hours off.
Captain Jason Caldwell said the most difficult part of the voyage was when he wasn't rowing.
"We’re rowers. We’re athletes. We know what to do when we have the oars in our hands," he said. "However, when you’re off shift, you have to figure out a way to feed yourself, address your deteriorating body (which is inevitable), fix things on the boat, clean the boat, make sure you have team responsibilities. You gotta get sleep too."
"You gotta do all these things on these two-hour shifts while maintaining the fact that it’s freezing at the first part of it, and at the back end you’re so hot and sweaty you don’t feel like you’re getting any rest when you’re off. Then you have a lot of time to think — think about how hard it is, think about how much you want to quit, and think about how much further you have to go," he told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
The team went through many baby wipes to wash the salt off their bodies and maintain hygiene. They would get freshwater using the battery-powered desalination unit in the cabin of the boat. Their toilet for the month was a bucket.
Upon arriving in Honolulu, they walked onto land for the first time in a month with shaky legs.
"Generally we’re doing about 12 steps a day from the cabin to the rowing position," Collins said. "In rowing, you don’t use your calf muscles at all, so our calf muscles completely disintegrated. Walking is pretty hard. I’ve probably already done 200 steps and my legs are completely shattered."
The team will enjoy their time on land by reconnecting with family, taking advantage of the plumbing system, and eating some fresh food.