England

Pacific row boat 'weakened by storm'

  • 22 June 2014
  • From the section England
Sam Collins, Fraser Hart, Colin Parker and James White
L-r: Sam Collins, Fraser Hart, Colin Parker and James White set off on Wednesday

One of four rowers rescued from the Pacific said extreme weather conditions had exposed weaknesses in their boat.

Team Pacific Rowers were taking part in a race between California and Hawaii when their vessel began taking in water about 100 miles from shore.

Rower Sam Collins, 25, from Cornwall, said: "It's really frustrating because we are a great team and it is only the equipment which let us down."

The rowers were airlifted to safety by US coastguards on Saturday.

Mr Collins, Fraser Hart 34, from Tunbridge Wells, James White, 36, from London and Colin Parker, 36, from New Zealand, were taking part in the Great Pacific Race.

The Pacific Rowers team set off on Wednesday to row 2,400 miles (3,862km) from Monterey in California to Honolulu.

Former BBC Guernsey journalist Mr Collins said: "The first couple of days were great. Team spirits were good. We were getting used to life on the boat.

"But the sea conditions were quite rough and worsening.

"Then late in the second day, out at sea, we started realising that water was permeating into the cabin.

"It just got worse and worse."

The crew used an electric bilge pump to keep the problem at bay but the water kept coming in.

Pacific Rowers
The crew used an electric bilge pump to keep the problem at bay but the water kept coming in

Water eventually got into all the internal lockers and the boat was so low in the water that waves were crashing over it continuously, Mr Collins said.

'Challenging' rescue

"The boat had been through severe testing but in some places it was permeating through the side of the boat because of the force of the waves," he added.

The team called for assistance and a support boat reached them 10 hours later.

But with waves of 20ft (6m) and gale-force winds, it was decided that the safest rescue was by coastguard helicopter.

In darkness, a helicopter winched the crew to safety.

"I cannot talk highly enough about the coastguards," he said.

The team is now considering entering the 2016 event.

"We are very disappointed, a lot of effort went into this," said Mr Collins.

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